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His Girl Wednesday

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« Frack, frack, frack, frackity frack ! »

Felicity Smoak, MIT class of 09, wasn’t one to swear and panic. Growing up in Vegas around casinos at least taught her how to keep her cool and a clear head. But today wasn’t just any day. She had just arrived in Starling City the night before, and was expected at Queen Consolidated for an interview in 20... scratch that, 17 minutes. Her flight had been delayed and she only made it to her hotel well past midnight. Exhaustion had taken over and she had forgotten to set her alarm clock. This meant she was currently busy getting dressed after the quickest shower in the history of showers. She didn’t bother with her hair, just put it in her usual ponytail (hey at least it looked professional), grabbed her makeup supplies and rushed out of her hotel room.

At least her taxi was on time. Inside she used the precious minutes it took to get to QC to apply some light makeup. She didn’t look as neat as she would have hoped, but since she was applying for a position in the IT department, and not the public relations, she gathered it should not prejudice her. Someone was clearly on her side as traffic was smooth and she managed to enter the building a full 3 minutes before 10. She hurried to the front desk, barely taking the time to catch her breath. A twenty something gorgeous woman with long, blond silky hair gave her the head to toe glance, clearly taking in her quite disheveled appearance.

“… May I help you?”

“Hum yes, I know I’m late, I’m here for the interview, I know there were several candidates that were to be seen this morning. IT Department.” Felicity quickly explained.

“Oh, indeed, there is an assessment going on right now. I’m afraid you might be indeed late, but it’s on the 15th floor. The lifts are over there, and just ask for Mrs Pembrook.” Blond-hair handed her a visitor badge and pointed to a direction on her right.

“Thank you.” Felicity wasted no time and rushed to the end of the building, quickly scanning her badge while looking in her messenger bag for her resume. Not watching where she was going, she couldn’t see the gentleman who was just as much in a hurry and the two collided just in front of the main elevators.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention!” She knelt to pick up some of her possessions that had scattered on the floor.

“Neither was I, obviously.” It wasn’t the words, but the voice that made her look up. She found herself staring into eyes so blue she forgot for one moment what she was doing there in the first place. The more-than-handsome man smiled at her, handing her a pen that had escaped during their collision as they both stood up.

“Hi, I’m Oliver Queen,” he said as he shook her hand.

“I know who you are, you’re Mister Queen.” She couldn’t help but blush a little, because even if she knew who he was, she didn’t know he would be even more handsome in the flesh. Actually, in the muscle would be more appropriate. Not only did he have the face but also the body of a Greek God, which really wasn’t fair for the rest of the male population.

“Nooo, Mr Queen is my father.”

“Right, but he’s gone. I mean no, he’s not gone, gone; he’s not dead. Right? Oh God, I sure hope he isn’t. I did my research before I applied for a job here and I’m positive he was still alive then. Anyway, I just meant that I know he went to visit the branch in Russia. Not that I spy on your family or anything, I just wanted to be prepared for my interview. For the IT department. Which I’m late to, actually.” As usual, the words rushed out of her mouth before she could control them and she mentally cursed herself. 

Oliver quirked an eyebrow, clearly amused. “Alright… I shall let you go then. Have a good day, and good luck.” He pressed the button to call the elevator for her and with a wink and a smile, he walked towards the entrance of the building.

Felicity stepped inside the elevator, pushed the button for the 15th floor, and gave herself one last check in the mirror before stepping out. She walked towards one of the receptionists, showed him her badge and asked where she could find Mrs Pembrook.

“Well, I’m afraid Mrs Pembrook is not available right now, she is interviewing candidates. Did you have an appointment?” A somehow young man, with an easy smile, answered her.

“I know, I’m here for one of those interviews. Felicity Smoak.”

“I’m sorry Miss Smoak, but the assessment started at 10. I cannot interrupt it.”

“But… I am just like one minute late? I’m so sorry, I’m usually always on time, my plane was delayed, I just flew from Boston for this interview! Are you sure I can’t just explain to Mrs Pembrook myself?” she begged, wondering if dropping on her knees would help. That might send the wrong message, Smoak.

“I wish I could help you but I have strict orders. I can’t let you through.” The young man, David, according to the name on his tag, gave her a sympathetic look. “I can put you on the list for the next recruitment if you want to?”

“God knows when that will be… thank you.” Felicity walked back towards the elevator, feeling completely defeated. Of course she had applied to other companies, but she really liked QC and their applied sciences division. She was hoping to start in the IT department and maybe get promoted quickly. She had the brains, the skills and was hard-working. She also really liked Starling City and was looking forward to moving there.

She was interrupted in her thoughts by the sound of a quarrel. She had made it to the main hall on the ground floor, which was rather empty as most employees were already in their office. Oliver Queen himself seemed to be having an argument with a woman, who looked like his mother. Not wanting to be caught in the middle of a family drama, she quickly stepped back, not willing to interrupt them, but the elevator door had just closed, so she ended up stuck there. She could only hope they would not notice her and quickly finish their conversation.

“Oliver, this is serious. Your father is considering retiring but he cannot do that if there is no one to take charge!”

“He has a VP who is more than capable of taking charge! Walter is great, you know that, and he has all the skills and abilities for this. I don’t see where the problem is!” Oliver answered, the frustration clear in his voice.

“That is not the point, this is Queen Consolidated. A Queen must be at the head of it! And it will be yours one day. It’s more than time for you to start taking your responsibilities seriously.”

“I am serious!” Oliver petulantly raised his voice at his mother, who, for her part, seemed to stay calm and collected.

“Really? Oliver, how many assistants have you had in the past 6 months?” Moira Queen's eyebrow raised in question and even Felicity could read the hints of displeasure in her tone. “How many lovely female assistants, should I say?”

“Mom… what do my assistants have to do with all of that?” 

“It’s symbolic, Oliver. It shows that you do not take things seriously. One day this will end up badly for us. One of those girls will sue for sexual harassment”

“I do not harass them, who do you think I am?” Oliver exclaimed, indignation written across his features.

“I know you don’t. But if you keep acting like this, it is bound to happen. You are the heir of a very wealthy family, Oliver. When there is that much money at stake, some people do not hesitate to twist reality.”

“Listen, mom…”

“No, Oliver. You need a new assistant. Since I can’t trust you with that, I’m going to ask the HR myself and you won’t have a say. For the rest, we’ll talk about it when your father gets back from Russia.” Moira squeezed her son’s arm, and turned around to leave. That’s when Oliver seemed to notice Felicity, who was still standing a few feet away from them.

“I already have one,” he quickly said.

“You already have a what, dear?” Moira stopped and looked at her son expectantly.

“An assistant.”

“How can you already have one? Shelly resigned yesterday afternoon. How did you even recruit her? What are her qualifications? The HR haven’t even had the time to send you candidates’s resumes!”

“Well, she tried for a position in the IT department, but was late for the assessment, and I think you’ll see that she is even overqualified for the job.“

It took Felicity a couple of seconds to understand what he was saying. Surely he doesn’t mean…

“I can even introduce you right now. Miss?” Oliver looked at her with insistence and she could read in his eyes the plead for her to play along.

“Yes, this is me. I am Miss.” She closed her eyes. Of all the times to babble…Get a grip, Smoak! “ I mean, I am Felicity. Felicity Smoak. And yes, I did try for a position in IT but long story short, my flight was delayed, I missed my alarm clock and was one minute late. One mi-nu-te.”

Moira gave Felicity the full head to toe look, her eyes narrowing as she observed her. Felicity shifted on her feet, knowing fully well that she looked rather... average with her flat shoes, simple low ponytail, and a plain, full buttoned blouse that showed zero cleavage. Although, judging by the conversation she had just overheard, maybe the lack of cleavage was actually a good thing.

Felicity fiddled with her purse strap, uncomfortable under the matriarch's cold stare. Being scrutinized by Moira Queen herself was an experience she hoped only happened once in a lifetime.

“Very well… have you let the head of HR know that there is no need for them to look through candidates for you?”

“I was just going to. I was actually waiting for Miss Smoak so we could go there, sign her contract and get her started as soon as possible. Right, Miss Smoak?”

“… Right, Mister Queen.” She glared at him behind his mother’s back.

“Alright then. I will see you for dinner, don’t forget the Merlyns are coming. Don’t be late.” Moira turned around and left them, alone for the second time that day, in the entrance hall.

“What was that exactly?!” Felicity whispered furiously.

“You were late weren’t you? I know that if you’re late, they don’t let you in. And seeing you 5 minutes later only means you couldn’t get through. Am I right?”

“Yes. One minute late. One…”

“Mi-nu-te. I know. So what do you think? I need an assistant to get my mother off my back and you still need a job don’t you?” He shrugged and looked at her with a smirk.

“Do you know I went to MIT? I worked really hard and it wasn’t so I could fetch coffee!” she huffed, keeping her voice low.

“But you still need a job. You can start as my assistant and then it will be easier for you to move to another department.”

Damn it, he has a point. A job is a job. And she really wanted to work for QC. She could save money and apply as soon as another position opened. Come on Smoak, the whole point of coming here was to take risks and start a new life. She took a deep breath.

“OK.” I’m so going to regret this.

“OK?” Oliver sounded surprised, probably not expecting her to agree that easily.

“Yes, but let’s be clear: this will only be temporary. And you will write references when I apply for another position.”

“It’s a deal, Miss Smoak. Now if you don’t mind, we really need to sign your contract.”

“Lead the way, Mister Queen. And that contract better mention that bringing coffee won’t be expected of me.”

“… we’ll negotiate the terms,” Oliver answered while guiding her through the lobby.

Oooh… I can assure you we will, Mister Queen.

Chapter Text

“So… you’re from Boston and went to MIT. Is this your first job?” Oliver asked while guiding her through the building.

“The first serious one at least. Obviously not the one I had in mind, but Queen Consolidated is an incredible company. It’s so advanced in sciences and technology. Not to mention that you seem to be taking a new direction in the environmental-friendly power resources. “ Felicity was struggling to keep up with him. He obviously knew the building like the back of his hand and his super long legs were forcing her almost to jog just to keep up with him. 

“I’m curious, though. Why Starling City? There are other similar companies on the East Coast. Wayne Enterprises for one. Do you have family here?” He opened yet another door and with a hand on her back, gently pushed her inside. 

“I wanted a… change of scenery. And no, I do not know anyone here.” Her voice, now much more reserved, seemed to catch Oliver’s attention. He glanced at her from the corner of his eyes as if he was about to ask more about it but, fortunately, was interrupted. Talking about her reasons to want to move across the country was something she really didn't want to do. Especially with her future boss.

“Ollie… you forgot to sign those papers I asked you to. Again. You promised you’d stop by my office yesterday.” A pouting blonde purred as she put her perfectly manicured hand on his arm.  

Oliver stared at the newcomer for a few seconds, as if he was trying to remember her name. His eyes suddenly brightened, confirming Felicity's thoughts: he had completely forgotten who the girl was. Charming. 

“Mandy… I’m sorry.” He flashed the girl a million dollar smile. “My assistant had to leave and I got caught up in all the drama. I’m sure we can plan for me to stop by tomorrow.” 

“Is the position opened? As your assistant, I mean. I’m sure I could be more than helpful. You know I don’t mind working after hours.” As if the suave smile she gave him wasn’t obvious enough she added a very subtle “or during weekends.” 

“Now that is a proposition that I find very hard to resist…” Oliver murmured, his eyes travelling over her figure.  

Felicity was too shocked to even take offense in the fact they were both completely ignoring her. That is not even flirting anymore. It’s like sexting without the texting part! 

“Hum. I’m sorry to interrupt your little one on one, Mister Queen, but we are supposed to head to the HR office as soon as possible.” And let's hope this is the only kind of one on one I'll ever have to interrupt. Cause it's bad enough already. 

Oliver tore his eyes from the busty blonde girl and her even more busty cleavage, openly annoyed at the interruption. He took a breath to speak but she didn’t want to give him any leverage. 

“You wouldn’t want your mother to have to do it for you, right?” she asked smoothly, a small smile stretching her lips. 

The little reminder was apparently enough to get his full attention on her again. 

“Right. Well, Mandy, the thing is I already have an assistant. Miss Smoak, this is Mandy. She is a secretary here, works in the public relations service. Mandy, this is Felicity Smoak. My new assistant.” Finally seeming to remember his manners, he gave a vague gesture between the two women. Public relations… well, talk about a surprise. She seems very much into relations and doesn't seem to mind having a public view. 

Mandy burst out laughing at his words.

“Ollie, you have always been such a prankster. Seriously, can I drop my application?” 

“I’m serious. Felicity is my new assistant and this is her first day.” Oliver at least had the decency to look slightly uncomfortable. At least that makes two of us now. 

Something in the way he shifted probably made Mandy realize he wasn’t joking. She turned to get a proper look at Felicity. 

“Oh God… your mother picked her, is that right? We all heard a rumor about a threat she might have made if one of your assistants was to quit again.” Whispering loud enough for said new assistant to hear every single word, Mandy put her hand on Oliver’s chest “But we never thought it was real.” 

“… No, it has nothing to do with my mother, I don’t know where you got that. I chose Felicity myself. Anyway, she is starting today and let’s leave it at that. I’ll make sure she can find enough time for me tomorrow so I can stop at your office, what do you say?” He punctuated the last with a wink. Mandy patted his tie, then raised on her feet to plant a kiss on his cheek. 

“I say my boss is never around after 2PM.” Looking at Felicity, she added “don’t you need to note that down?” 

“I have a very good memory, don’t worry about that.” With a small smile, Felicity looked at Oliver expectantly. 

“Well, Mandy, I’m sorry but we really need to go. I’ll see you tomorrow. I promise.” He raised her hand to his lips and kissed her knuckles, earning an enamoured giggle. “Miss Smoak? This way, please.” He showed her a door on his left and she followed through, silently grateful that this awkward exchange was over. 

The rest of their walk was in silence and by the time they had finally arrived at their destination, Felicity was having serious doubts about this whole idea. Had she not been in such a hurry to leave Boston as fast as possible, she would have probably turned around and left.  

The HR Department consisted of a big open floor, with a dozen of spacious cubicles, all occupied by a variety of employees of all ages and genders.

Oliver looked around, clearly searching for something – or someone. Whatever it was, he must have found it because he started to walk decidedly towards one of the cubicles, leaving her alone to face the multiple stares coming her way. Mostly curious, but some with envy or opened jealousy.

“Hi Sara. I need you to fix a standard contract for my assistant. Can you please bring it to Isabel’s office as soon as possible?”  

“Isabel is in Russia with your father, Ollie. I can replace her if you want to.” The girl named Sara looked at him curiously, her eyes wandering between him and Felicity. 

“If you don't mind. We’ll wait for you in the conference room.” 

They only had to wait a couple of minutes before Sara joined them around the big oval table. 

“Hi, I’m Sara Lance. I work for the HR Department as you know. If you have any question about the contract, you can ask me. Or about anything concerning the company. I practically grew up with Ollie, so I know it like the back of my hand,” she smiled at Felicity reassuringly. 

“Thank you. I’m Felicity. Felicity Smoak.” How many times have I said that line today?? 

It turned out that the contract was, indeed, pretty standard. It involved the salary, the number of hours she was expected to work each week, and all the typical information that one would find on a document like this. Sara and Oliver talked together while she read through the six pages. It was obvious the two of them knew each other well, talking about their families and a Sunday brunch they were apparently both supposed to attend. 

 “Laurel is getting all worked up you know. I heard her talk to mom last night. Wondering when you’re gonna pop the big question.” 

“My father has been pestering me about it for a while, too. Kinda makes me glad he’s halfway across the world,” Oliver laughed but Felicity noticed he avoided answering the question. 

Probably sensing she wouldn’t get anything more on that topic, Sara swiftly changed the conversation and dropped her voice: 

“So… your new assistant. She’s different. Finally growing up?” she teased him. 

Felicity stiffened, having heard perfectly, but not dropping her act as she kept on reading the documents. 

“… Mom heard about Shelly. Felicity had just missed her interview for the IT department and it seemed like a good idea.” Felicity felt his eyes on her, and he must have been reassured that she wasn't paying attention because he added: “As soon as my mother is off my back, I’ll find another one.” 

Sara let out a sigh. “Give her a chance, she might surprise you. I took a glance at her resume. She is crazy smart, Ollie. Summa cum laude at MIT, that’s… something. I’m actually even surprised she accepted this position. And the fact that you didn’t really choose her might be a good sign: you always pick the wrong girl, Ollie, you know that.” 

Felicity had enough. She took a sip of water and put the glass back on the table with a little bit more force than was necessary. The loud noise got their attention.

“Well, it all seems in order to me. It’s pretty standard. The only thing I would like to add is that I am free to apply for another position as soon as I see fit and that I will not be held by any prior notice.” Pushing her glasses on her nose, she looked at the pair that was facing her. “Then I’ll sign it."

“Ollie?” The question in Sara’s voice was crystal clear. 

“It’s fine, Sara. You can add that part. We’ll wait for you. I’d like to get this done as soon as possible.” Oliver didn’t take his eyes off Felicity until Sara left the room, leaving them in an awkward silence. Oliver fished his phone out of his front pocket and quickly started typing, completely ignoring her. Thankfully, Sara was back within a few minutes with a new set of papers. 

“There you go. You can see I added your request on page 5, under the specific conditions. Does that suit you?” 

“Yes, perfect.” Felicity grabbed her pen, and quickly signed the document, then handed it to them so they could sign it as well. 

“Was that really all you wanted to add, Miss Smoak?” Oliver asked once he put his pen back in his suit pocket, not bothering to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. 

“I believe so, yes.” Not lowering her eyes, she continued “Queen Consolidated is very thorough apparently. Unfortunately, there is no mention of coffee. Neither of any other kind of drinks. Actually, there is no description of the work I’m supposed to do. I guess it will be up to my interpretation, then.” Smiling sweetly, she stood up and gathered her bag. 

He huffed out a laugh and lightly shook his head, muttering something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like “I should have known…” 

“Well, thank you for your help, Sara. I’ll see you on Sunday for brunch then?” 

“Sure. Welcome to Queen Consolidated, Felicity. Please don’t hesitate, if you ever need anything. I know Ollie is not the easiest boss to work for but I promise you, he’s not that bad.” Her eyes were soft and understanding as she shook Felicity’s hand. “I’ll copy those and send them to your office by tomorrow, along with the employment regulations and some info about our healthcare system.” 

“Thank you, Sara. “ Felicity gave her what was probably her first genuine smile of the day. So being a bitch is not mandatory to work here. Pheww, that’s a relief. 

Sara burst out laughing "Thank God it's not!" 

Felicty gasped and felt her face burning with shame. "Oh no. I'm so sorry, sometimes my brain forgets that it's supposed to censor itself. I didn't mean that... I mean you're really nice with me. That's all I meant." 

Still chuckling, Sara shook her head. "Believe me, I completely understand. I've been working here for a couple of years and... yeah I completely understand what you meant." Winking at her, she added "Ollie... I like that one. You should try to keep her."

 

The trip to his office took them longer than she expected. It was lunch time and a lot of employees were in the hallways; the building was much more busy than it had been thirty minutes before. 

“I’m just going to show you the way to my office. You have yours right across mine, it’s on the 16th floor” Oliver explained as they walked by a group of employees that were standing by a coffee maker. “Ladies,” Oliver winked at them. “Any chance one of you might show my assistant how the coffee maker works?”

Felicity shot him a furious look, which only made him smirk. Apparently, the man loved to play. Good. So did she.

The oldest one giggled. “I’ll make you a cup myself, Ollie. One espresso, black, is that right?” Is she batting her eyelashes at him? Oh my God… She is! And she looks old enough to be his mother! 

“Aww, Patty. You know the way to my heart.” He took a sip from the cup Mrs Robinson was handing him. “Mmmh. Perfect, as always. Thank you. Now, if you’ll excuse me, ladies, I need to show this young woman to her office,“ he said as he pointed his chin towards Felicity. “Have a good afternoon.” 

They left under a chorus of “Bye, Ollie!” and flirtatious smiles that made Felicity roll her eyes. Alright, the man was charming, but he was also apparently a gigantic douchebag so what were all those women seeing in him exactly? Apart from his good looks and money, that is?

And this was how, five minutes later, she found herself standing in the middle of a very wide hall that led, like Oliver had said, to both their offices. All the walls were made of glass, the rooms were very spacious and offered a breathtaking view over the city. A small steel sign read 'Oliver Queen – Chief Marketing Officer' right on the wall. And that was all she knew about his job, or the one she was supposed to do here.  

“Well, this is your office. As you can see, mine is right through this door. You have everything you might need, but if there’s anything else, just ask one of the other assistants. I have a meeting for lunch,” he frowned at his watch as if the time was personally offending him for moving against his will. “For which I’m already late. I’ll see you later, I guess? Oh, and here’s my phone number, if there’s an emergency. And only if there’s an emergency.” Oliver handed her his business card and then left her, bewildered, in the middle of her 16th floor office. 

Felicity took a good look around. The whole room, thanks to the glass walls, was extremely bright. I’m sure it’s gonna be a nightmare to look at a screen with so much light in the room.

Her desk was made of steel, as modern as the rest of the furniture. Oliver’s office was bigger than hers and included one of those designer sofa, that looked more pretty than comfortable. Everything was neat, neutral and professional. And she couldn’t feel more out of place.  

Sighing, she moved to her desk, sat down and started the computer. Life lesson number 1: In times of doubt, always start with the computer. 

It turned out, just like she was expecting, that the system used was so old and dated she was quite confident it was older than her. She made a list of the things she would need to improve the system, first one being a new processor, and worked with what she could find at the moment.

The biggest shock came with the fact that, apparently, all of Oliver’s former assistants had used a paper agenda, which was, for Felicity, nothing short of a federal crime. And apparently they also liked to draw little hearts around their boss’s name. God help me. 

It took her most of the afternoon to organize his online agenda, that she linked with her professional email address and Oliver’s. The only thing left to do was sync his phone as well. This way, she could customize the alerts she would send him. A glance at the clock told her it was past five. Oliver hadn’t been back all afternoon, and she wasn’t sure how long she was supposed to wait for him. Or even if she was supposed to wait for him at all. Her eyes eventually landed on Oliver's desk. His system is probably as outdated as mine… and even if it’s not, I still should configure it so everything is completely in sync. I'm pretty sure that’s what a good assistant would do. 

 

Two Hours Later -

 

“You know, it’s not the first time I’ve caught one of Oliver’s assistants under his desk. But I have to say, he’s usually sitting in his chair when it happens.”  

Felicity yelped, bumping her head when she tried to get up.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t prying or anything, I was rebooting Mister Queen’s system and God this is so old and the very opposite of practical, I just… had to fix it because how can anyone be expected to… “ Felicity stopped mid-rambling when she took a good look at the man standing in front of her. He was in his mid-twenties, with gorgeous black hair and a mischievous look. Of course. Tommy Merlyn, partner in crime. 

“I’m sure you can pry all you want, Miss…?” Blue eyes smiled at her very obvious nervous state. 

“Smoak. Felicity Smoak. I’m the new assistant. Which you obviously already knew.”  She blushed, eyes darting to her hands for a moment in embarrassment. 

“Well, Miss Smoak, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Oliver has always known how to pick his employees and he hasn’t failed this time either.” He winked at her then went to sit on the extremely-uncomfortable-looking sofa. 

“Well, sir,…” 

“Call me Tommy, please,” he said with a charming smile. 

“Like I was saying, Mister Merlyn, Mister Queen isn’t here and he hasn’t told me when he is coming back.” Felicity was actually impressed at the authoritative tone in her voice. It was more professional than she felt at the moment. 

“He’ll be here soon enough, we’re supposed to meet here. It’s more than late, what are you still doing here in the first place?” Tommy asked, frowning. 

Felicity glanced at her watch and gasped “ 7.30?! I had no idea, I was so busy trying to get everything ready that… Of course, I’ll go. I wouldn’t want people to start thinking Mister Queen is working me up all night.”

Tommy raised his eyebrows, the corner of his lips twitching. 

“… Frack. I so didn’t mean it that way. Please forget I even said anything about Mister Queen, me, and how we spend our nights. SEPARATELY I mean. We don’t spend our nights together, we just spend them, as in, he spends his, and I spend mine. I’ll just stop talking.” She closed her eyes and pinched her nose. 3,2,1. Breathe in, breathe out. 

“That would be alright, Miss Smoak. I’m afraid this is my fault. I should have let you know at what time you could leave. I’m afraid my… business meeting took longer than I thought.” 

Felicity turned her attention to the newcomer. Oliver. Please tell me he didn’t hear… Wait, a business meeting? My arse!

“Business meeting? Cause these look like lipstick marks,” she pointed at some very apparent red smears on the collar of his shirt.  

“I’m looking to invest in the cosmetics sector,” he deadpanned. 

She just tilted her head and pinched her lips, knowing her disbelief was written across her face. A sigh escaped at the realization that this was probably not the only excuse she was going to hear while working here. 

“Very well… what time should I be here tomorrow morning?” 

“Around 9 I guess? I’d rather you arrived before me. I wouldn’t want people thinking we spent the night working each other up.” His voice was all business, but his eyes were twinkling. Damn it. He heard it all. 

“Damn it, I did, Miss Smoak.” This time he couldn’t hide the smile that spread on his face. And oh boy, could the man smile… 

“I’m so…” 

“Don’t mention it. It’s late. Go home, I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” With a gentle nudge, he pushed her towards her office. 

“But we have to talk about schedules, and what you’re expecting of me, my duties. I also need to head back to Boston to pack, so I’ll need a couple of days off and-" 

“Tomorrow, Miss Smoak.” His voice was warm, but firm. 

“… alright then. Have a good night.” She turned to leave, but spun back around when she remembered they were not alone. "You too, Mr Merlyn.” 

“Goodnight Miss Felicity, I hope we’ll see each other again!” Tommy waved at her. 

She quickly gathered her bag, her phone and a small stack of papers she had left on her desk . 

“Before I leave, Mister Queen. Could I have your phone please?” 

“I believe I already gave you my phone number, Miss Smoak” 

“Yes but that’s not what I’m asking for. I need your phone, the device itself. I had to create an online agenda, because none of my predecessors realized that this is 2010.” She held her hand open, waiting for him with a challenging look. 

“I’m not sure I need an online agenda, Miss Smoak. I managed just fine before.” 

“With all due respect, if you really had managed fine, you wouldn’t have had to pick a random IT girl as your new assistant, Mister Queen.” Felicity said with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Your phone, please.” 

Tommy snorted. Oliver glared at him, then, sighing, reached inside his jacket to retrieve his phone.

“There you go, but I don’t have the time for this..."

“It’s only gonna take a minute. Just need to sync your email address, I already set it up… and there you go. It’s done. I’ll figure out the alerts from mine. See you tomorrow.” Handing the phone back, she left both men behind as she made it to the elevator. 

 

“Well… interesting choice here. She’s rather lovely, but I never knew you had a thing for the librarian kind.” 

“Shut up, Merlyn. It was either that or my mother would have picked God knows who. It’s only temporary, as soon as I can send her to another service, I’ll hire a new assistant before my mom even hears about it. It’s a win-win, really,” Oliver answered as they left his office. 

“Still, she looks like a nice girl. And hard-working, obviously, which is not something we’re used to. And I have to say that little babbling thing of hers is rather… charming. If you’re not interested, I might even give it a try. You know I never had a nerdy girl, and I’m always ready for new experiences,” Tommy slyly said. 

“Don’t. Like you said she’s a nice girl, but she doesn’t play in our league. Not to mention, I had lunch with Helena… her cousin is in town this week and she was hoping we would stop by her place after dinner. You in?” 

“The Bertinelli cousins… I’m always in for them. I think I still have some of their underwear somewhere in my car from that night at Poison. Do you think she still does that thing with her legs?” 

“I don’t know. But we sure as hell will find out later” Both men walked inside QC’s garage, where Tommy’s chauffeur was waiting for them. 

By the time they had made it to the car, Oliver had already forgotten everything about his new assistant.

 

 

Chapter Text

Being Oliver Queen’s assistant included a lot of tasks. Taking messages, sorting his mail, writing letters, keeping his agenda organized. Unfortunately, none of these were exactly time-consuming for a woman like Felicity Smoak. Having arrived at exactly 8:45AM, she had already been through all the basic duties she could think of and a quick glance at the clock confirmed that she still had an hour and a half to kill before noon and her lunch break. Sighing, she was about to start a game of Candy Crush when a small knock on the door startled her.

“Hi! Felicia, right?” With a smile that didn’t reach her eyes, Mandy approached and dropped a file on her desk. “This is the Venizzi report, about the new solar plant thingy. I know it must be a bit complicated for you so I’ll spare the details, but as Ollie’s assistant you are supposed to make sure he goes through it for the meeting tomorrow afternoon. Normally our courier delivers that kind of files from one service to another, but since it’s your first day I thought it would be nice for you to see a friendly face.”

Felicity raised her eyebrows. Friendly face? “It’s Felicity.”

“Pardon me?”

“My name is Felicity, not Felicia. And thank you, but I thought the meeting was this afternoon, not tomorrow?” Stay professional. Professional.

“Oh I guess you didn’t have the memo, of course, silly me! The change was made two days ago, Shelly must have forgotten to write it down! Same time, same place, though.” Throwing a longing glance towards Oliver’s office, she added “Ollie’s not here yet?”

“No, Mr Queen has not arrived yet. May I take a message before you leave?” Quirking an eyebrow, Felicity didn’t lower her eyes, making sure the other blonde took this as her cue to leave.

“No. I’ll wait to see him personally." Turning around and strolling back to the elevator, Mandy quickly glanced over her shoulder. “You know, you should consider another kind of wardrobe. It’s fine for an IT girl, but with this position, you need to… look the part. Just some friendly advice.” Winking at Felicity, she finally stepped inside the elevator.

Taking a couple of breaths to calm down, Felicity stared at the file in front of her. Well, at least now she had something to keep herself busy. What she had told Oliver was true: she really had been paying attention to QC’s efforts towards the greener energy sources and getting more knowledge about one of their biggest projects surely couldn’t hurt her chances to get another position within the company. And if the last 24 hours had showed her anything, it was definitely that she wouldn’t stay Oliver Queen’s assistant any longer than necessary.

That’s how her boss found her two hours later. Her neat ponytail not so neat anymore, with a pencil stuck in her hair and a colony of post-its on her desk, along with some leftovers from the lunch she had ordered. A frown had appeared between her eyebrows, and she was so absorbed into what she was reading that she didn’t even hear the ping of the elevator.

“Felicity?”

Jumping probably a foot in the air, she placed a hand on her fast-beating heart and took a second to collect herself. “What the…don’t you knock?!”

“Felicity… this is the marketing department. It’s not the ladies’ room.” With an amused smile, Oliver walked past her and inside his own office. “Any messages?”

“Hum, yes. Your father’s assistant called, asking you for a conference call with him as soon as you can. Seeing he is currently in a different time zone, you should probably do that first.”

Sighing, he threw his jacket on the back of the sofa. “Fine. Just set me up.”

She stared at him in disbelief. Surely he doesn’t mean he needs me to come over to his computer and click on the skype icon for him?

Oliver held her gaze, his eyes daring. Oh I see how it is… You wanna play. Game on.

“Of course, Mister Queen.” Quickly pressing a few keys on her tablet, she then raised her head just when the familiar sound of a call in the making was heard from Oliver’s computer.

“Oliver? Where are you?” Robert Queen’s voice was as deep and authoritarian as his son’s. But while Oliver’s was usually playful and full of sass, his father sounded mature, in control.
Oliver swapped his head towards his desk, then swapped it back at her right away, disbelief written on his face. “How did you…”

“I believe your father is waiting, Mister Queen.” With what was probably her first real smile of the day, Felicity went back to her reading, making sure she didn’t miss, from the corner of her eye, the sight of Oliver Queen taking a sprint.
As soon as he had greeted his father, she stood up and went to close the door, giving him at least some privacy.

The conversation between father and son lasted more than half an hour and was quite animated. Oliver raised his voice several times, and even if she could only make out a few words (“you can’t do that!” being repeated more than once), it was more than enough for her to understand that there were some real tensions between them. Felicity was just finishing the summary and commentary sheet concerning the file that Mandy had dropped when Oliver stormed out, barely paying attention to her and shouting a “I’ll be back later” before barging his way through the door leading to the stair case.
“OOO…K…” biting her lips, she quickly printed the page she had written, put it neatly on top of the Venizzi report and left the file on her boss’s desk.

She was just about to get back to a very thorough thumb twiddling when the now-so-familiar ping alerted her of someone’s arrival. Thinking it was Oliver, back from wherever he went to blow off some steam, she didn’t bother looking up until the typical sound of high heels on marble floor made her realize there was no way the newcomer was a man.

“Hum, yes. Can I help you?” she asked the beautiful brunette, who was probably a few years older than her.

“… Excuse-me, but who are you?” There was just a slight hint of disdain in the woman's voice, and it was obvious that she was intrigued by Felicity's presence.

“I'm Felicity, Mr Queen’s new assistant.”

“A new assistant? Again?! What happened to Shelly?” 

“I honestly don’t know, I only started yesterday. What can I do for you?” There was something slightly familiar about the girl, but Felicity couldn’t place it.

“I’m Laurel. Oliver is going to take me out for lunch. Where is he?” Ooooh… of course. Laurel Lance. Sara’s step-sister and Oliver’s girlfriend.

“I’m sorry, Mr Queen left a few minutes ago. He didn’t tell me when he’d be back, nor that he was expecting you for lunch?” Clicking on her tablet, Felicity pulled up his agenda and saw that nothing was noted concerning a lunch date. Relief flew over her that she hadn’t somehow forgotten.

“I wanted to surprise him.” Laurel pushed back her hair behind her ear and shifted her purse on her shoulder. “Aren’t you going to call him?”

“Oh. Sure, of course. I’ll do that.” Felicity grabbed the phone and pressed 2, which was supposed to reach Oliver’s cell phone. After a couple of rings, she ended up on his voicemail. Glancing at the other woman, she put her hand on the speaker. “Do you want me to leave a message? Or maybe he’ll pick up if it’s your phone number that appears?”

“No, don’t bother. I’ll text him from there.”

Felicity hung up and looked expectantly at Laurel who was staring at her. “Is there anything else I can do?”

“Oh no, no. Just let him know I stopped by if you see him? And sorry but… you seem quite young to be assistant to someone like Ollie. What are your qualifications exactly?” There was mainly curiosity in her tone, but also a glimpse of… suspicion that made Felicity uncomfortable.

“I graduated last year. I have a Masters in Cyber Security and Computer Science. Not the typical way to get into secretarial arts, I’ll give you that...” I can’t believe I’m calling myself a secretary. “This is my first serious job. Mr Queen was in a hurry to get a new assistant and… I was available.”

“I’m sure you were… Well, interesting career move I’d say. Anyway, thank you for your help.” Turning back, she was just about to leave when Oliver resurfaced, disheveled, but also much more relaxed than when he had left earlier.

“Laurel! What a good surprise! What are you doing here?” Full play-boy smile on display, he quickly kissed her cheek.

“I was actually hoping you’d take me out for lunch, but your assistant wasn’t able to get a hold of you. I thought you told me you’d spend the whole day working on this new solar project?”

“I had a few papers to sign. I can’t make it to lunch though. We have an important meeting in 10 minutes. Miss Smoak, I have been told you were given the digest of the Venizzi file.” Smirking at Laurel, he added “Those things are so techy I swear it doesn’t even look like English.”

“But isn’t the meeting tomorrow?” Felicity felt panic slowly rising… what is he talking about, the digest?? What digest??

“What? Those meetings always happen on Wednesdays.” He took his cellphone and quickly typed a few keys, shoving it under her nose “See? Surely, an MIT graduate can read a date?”

“But…”

“Ok, maybe I should leave you then.” Laurel looked at them, shifting on her feet. “I can see now is not the best of time,” she let out a small humorless laugh.

“Hmm? Yeah, I’ll call you tonight.” Oliver gave her a small peck on the lips. “We could go to lunch tomorrow.”

“Sure, bye Felicity.” Laurel lowered her voice and petted Oliver’s arm as she walked away. “Don’t be too harsh with her I’m sure it was an honest mistake."

“Mister Queen, I am sorry, I have been told that it was moved to tomorrow,” Felicity quickly explained herself.

“A meeting is never moved without a proper memo. Did you get one?” 

“Well, no, but since I started yesterday I thought it was…”

“God. I don’t have time for this anyway,” Oliver interrupted her impatiently. “Where is the digest?”

“The Venizzi file is on your desk, but I don’t think there is anything that looks like a formal digest in there.” She quickly got up to retrieve the documents but Oliver beat her to it, and went to snatch it before her.

“What do you mean, you don’t think? You lost it?!” His temper was slowly showing and even if Felicity knew that this wasn’t her fault, she couldn’t form any coherent thought to get him to see what had really happened. She also didn’t know if telling him about Mandy’s scheme would make it worse, seeing as the two were quite… friendly.

“I made one, though. I mean the first page, I made a commentary sheet, summarized everything. I also added a few ideas that…” Trying to fix the mess she was in, she showed him the single sheet of paper that she thought was quite clear, even patted her own back for using generic layman’s terms.

He snapped the sheet back. “Don’t waste your time and try to make me believe that, in just under two hours, you managed to comprehend, analyze and synthetize a report that took one of the best solar energy expert and our own top marketing consultants more than 6 month to create!” He violently closed the file and stormed to the executive lift that would take him to the top floor of the building. All major meetings always took place in their biggest conference room, which was near the CEO and VP offices.

Felicity quickly grabbed her tablet and a note pad and hurried behind him. She was shaking with nerves, trying to come up with a way to solve the mess she was in. As much as she tried, she couldn’t remember seeing any digest in the file that Mandy had brought her. Suspicion was raising its head, and after the stunt that Mandy had pulled, Felicity wouldn’t be surprised if she had actually taken it out on purpose. Anger was slowly starting to take the place of her nervousness, and seeing the same anger literally coming from every pore of Oliver was only fueling hers. The huge sense of unfairness that washed over her wasn’t enough to drown the bitterness she was starting to feel. Had Oliver dared to show up more than 10 minutes before his meeting, had he dared to show up at all apart from that skype call and actually talk to her, that situation would have been avoided. There is no way I’m getting my head chopped for that. Felicity Megan Smoak may have been a “sweet girl” but she was also from Vegas and had been raised by a single mother. In other words, she knew how to fight back.

Fortunately, the ride to the top floor only took a few seconds, and she literally ran out of the elevator almost desperate to escape her boss’s ice-cold stare and impatient foot stomping.

The conference room was very spacious, with a direct view on Downton’s other skyscrapers. The huge round table was big enough to seat at least 30 people, and there were also benches on the wall opposite the windows – which she assumed were for the assistants and secretaries. More than half the seats were already taken, which gave Felicity the occasion to get a good look at most of QC’s executives. A dozen other employees were gathered near the benches, including Sara. Felicity hurried towards her, silently thanking all the gods above her for what was still the only friendly face she had met this week.

Noticing Felicity, Sara smiled while patting the seat to her left. Her welcome face changed abruptly when she saw the worry on Felicity’s features. “What’s wrong? You are pale as a sheet” she whispered genuinely concerned.

“Something happened. I only got hold of the Venizzi report a couple of hours ago and the digest was missing. Actually I had no idea there was supposed to be a digest, so there also was no way for me to know that something was missing in the first place but hey apparently being Oliver Queen’s assistant, I’m also expected to have like an Inner eye or something.” She was stopped mid-rambling by Sara’s calming hand on her shoulder.

“Ok, first of all, breathe. Slow down. There is always a digest included with this kind of report, it’s the only way that lot-” pointing her chin towards the table, Sara continued “can work with those. Are you sure it didn’t fall under your desk or something?”

“No, it didn’t! I checked everywhere and I swear to God there was nothing but the report when that Mandy brought it to me!” Struggling to keep her voice down, Felicity started fumbling with her notepad. “She even told me the meeting had been pushed back to tomorrow, so I don’t know what I’m supposed to think.” Her voice started trembling with her last words, so she preferred to stop there with her explanations. Last thing she wanted was to start a drama or to have Sara think she was accusing a colleague.

“Mandy? Denis Lewis’s secretary? The one from Public Relations?”

“Yeah.” Her voice now barely audible made Sara bend closer to her.

“Hey. Ok. First of all, it’s not really your fault, there was no way you could have known if everything was complete in the file she gave you. Oliver, though, must have seen it right away. Why didn’t he send you to ask for a copy?”

“He only came back like 10 minutes ago, so there wasn’t really any time. I should have told him right away and showed him that damn report, but I thought the conference call with his father was more important.” Sara was just about to reply when suddenly all the executives sat down, just as Walter Steel, Robert’s Queen right hand, entered the room and took his place at the head of the table.

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Please, let’s get started right away. Some of us are expected at the country club tonight, after all.” This brought a few laugh. “Robert will be joining us later, but let’s begin with the Venizzi report. I think we all know that QC is expanding its business towards eco-friendly factories. Most of our competitors are also approaching a greener way for business. But we want to always be a step further. Our plan is to make Queen Consolidated the world leader in eco-friendly managing and have 100% of our resources certified green by 2020. Technical and logistic aspects of this project, not to mention the financial part, are the main issues, which is why this Venizzi report was ordered by Robert himself last year.” Taking a deep breath, Walter let his eyes wander around the people surrounding him “Well. As usual, let’s start with Lucas, see what the Applied Sciences have to add to this.”

Felicity turned her attention to the man who should have been her new boss, and quickly lost track of time, taking as many notes as possible. Until now, she hadn’t known how big of a risk QC was ready to take with this new solar project. But seeing how the executives kept asking questions and how every service seemed to be involved somehow, she realized that this was a huge step. She glanced at Oliver, biting her lips, and saw he wasn’t paying attention at all, seemingly lost in thought as he was reading what she recognized as the document she had printed earlier. A frown appeared between his eyebrows just as he raised his head and locked eyes with her, as if he had sensed her staring. Blushing, she quickly went back to her notes and started scrambling the first words she could actually catch.

That didn’t save her from the dreadful feeling she felt when she heard Walter say “Oliver? You’ve been awfully quiet. What’s your call on this?”

Panic started to creep out on her, and she cringed with uncomfort at the idea that her boss was probably going to either make a fool of himself or put the blame on her in front of every major employee of the company she wanted to work for. She honestly couldn’t decide which one would be worse.

“Well… The main issue has always been the budget. In order to make this a livable project, we need to save expenses in other areas, which is usually workforce. That means firing people. Which always brings bad publicity and you all know how the stock exchange hates bad publicity,” Oliver smirked. Several of his colleagues let out a laugh at that, shaking their heads, no doubt thinking of Oliver's own bad publicity over the years. “What would be the point of being the greenest company in the world if that meant putting thousands of our own employees out of work? Gaining points in one area, just so we could lose some in another one? QC is a family company, we are supposed to have values. And those values include treating our employees like family; fighting for them. How will it look for us if we are willing to fire a third of our so-called family?” He took a deep breath, but was interrupted by a 40ish something woman, whose position Felicity couldn’t remember. 

“But we would eventually create new jobs, if we do invest in new solar plants around Starling.”

“Key word being eventually,” Oliver replied. “Not to mention, do we have any idea of the volume of that new workforce? I am pretty sure, given the report, that this will be as cost-saving as possible, and from what I’ve read that implies as few employees as possible. This is serious, because if we go back on our values the entire company will need to be rebranded from the inside out. Doing that would make the cost skyrocket. Do you have any idea how much money it takes to buy media time? Let alone create whole new image campaigns?" Looking around the table, obviously waiting for someone to come up with an answer, he continued when there was none.. “That’s what I thought. We need to keep this in mind. Lucas, is it technically possible to use the extra production of energy?” Oliver’s eyes dropped to his stack of papers “Cogeneration, is that right?” 

Felicity’s jaw dropped once she realized that he was basically reading some of the comments and suggestions she had written down. Although he fumbled with the word "cogeneration" he was taking the cues right from her notes. 

Oliver quickly glanced at her and turned towards the head of Applied Sciences. 

“Yes, cogeneration. In simple terms it means using the extra energy given up by electricity production. But what does it have to do with all of this?” 

“Well if we can harness this... trash energy we're producing and put it to use somewhere else, then this new project could be almost self-sufficient. That will keep us from firing thousands of people, and we can create new internships for the ones who are willing to work in this new field. There would almost be no casualties in the HR department. No problem of image there, no bad publicity.” Silence welcomed Oliver’s last word until Walter spoke up again. 

“This is definitely… a new possibility. I’ll have to talk about it with Robert. Lucas, is this realistic?”

“I don’t know. I mean, theoretically, I guess so. But I’ll have to see with our engineers. And Isabel will also have to have a say, new internships have a cost and that’s something for the HR department,” Lucas mumbled, shifting uncomfortably on his chair.

“Will a month be enough?” Walter asked as he checked his phone. “Robert should be back by then.”

“I’ll see what I can do, and keep you informed about any progress.”

“Since this gave us all some food for thought… You will all get a new memo about this proposition as soon as Robert has heard of it. I’ll try to explain to him as much as I can, but-”

Oliver interrupted him. “My assistant already made an analysis with all these suggestions. I’ll have her send a copy to your office by tomorrow.”

Walter smiled at him rather fondly. “That’s settled then. Good job, son.” Waving at his secretary, he added “Your father had an announcement to make, he’ll be online with us in 15 minutes. I suggest we all take a break in the meanwhile.”

Everybody stood up at once and gathered towards the smaller room adjacent, filled with pastries and drinks. Felicity stayed behind, hoping to catch Oliver by himself, but Patty, the cougar she had met yesterday, already had her claws on him. Turning around, she found herself facing a pair of very judgmental brown eyes.

“Sandy!” she exclaimed with a smile as fake as her colleague’s.

“It’s Mandy.”

“My bad… with all those new names to remember, it’s getting hard to keep track.” Staring right back at her, Felicity let her eyes wander to the man standing next to her. Denis Lewis, from Public Relations. Mandy’s direct boss. “By the way I am so sorry I couldn’t find the time for Oliver to stop by at your office to… sign those papers. I’ll make sure I save time for him this week though. What time did you say again? That you were always more available after 2, right?” As on cue, Mr Lewis turned to Mandy, taken aback by what she had just said.

“What papers, Mandy?” he asked, sounding intrigued.

“Hum, I don’t know, I mean, it’s probably something Shelly set up before she left.” Blushing under her boss’s questioning eyes, she glanced furiously at Felicity but didn’t have the time to reply.

“So I assume there is no need for him to stop by, then. Perfect. Thank you for your help, Mister Lewis.” She turned to walk away, then with a sudden change of mind, turned back and looked sweetly at Mandy. “Oh, also, apparently there was a page missing from the Venizzi report you brought me personally. I hope you didn’t have the same problem? Thankfully, I was able to make a new digest, solar technology has always been like a… hobby for me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to talk to Mister Queen.” Felicity left them standing there, but still could heard him say. “We’ll talk later about the fact that you ask our CEO’s son to drop you a visit when…”. The rest was inaudible, washed away by the sound of people talking around her. She quickly made her way to Oliver who had been observing the scene, a few feet away from them.

“Mister Queen, I wanted to explain…”

He cut her off. “I think you should start calling me Oliver. Mister Queen is my father and that is probably going to get people confused.”

“Alright… Oliver. As I was saying…”

He interrupted her once more. “We don’t really have time for that. Sara talked to me and might have pointed out that… I shouldn’t have left you alone all day. So maybe, we’re both to blame.”

Felicity felt her jaw drop. Wow, I didn’t expect that.

Oliver was about to continue when Walter called everyone back in the room again. They didn’t have a choice and went back to their seats, but not before Oliver grabbed her arm and whispered “we’ll talk about it later.”

The giant screen behind him turned to life and they only had to wait a couple of minutes before Robert Queen’s smiling face showed up.
“Good evening, everyone. Excuse my attire, but as you know, it’s the middle of the night here.” Winking at the camera (Oh God like father, like son), he continued “I wanted to say this officially myself, and I probably won’t be able to be back before a couple of weeks. Walter, you’ll keep me updated with what you have all said, won’t you?”

“Of course, you will get a full report by next week at the latest.”

“Perfect. Well, as you know, I’ve built this company with my father. I made it grow and prosper with the years, with the help of some very loyal partners. Walter, for one, that I trust blindly. I also believe this might be a good time to start having some of us adorning new responsibilities. You know that family values are what made this company what it is today. You also know that we live in a very different society than when it all started. Which is why I decided that we needed a new position of Financial Director who would also act as co-VP when Walter is not available. I think that with this new direction we are taking, it is crucial to prove our own investors that we have a solid leadership at all times.” Robert paused and tapped his fingers against his lips.

People started to openly stare at Oliver who for himself, stubbornly kept his eyes on his glass of water. Am I about to become executive- assistant to a VP? Jeez, quite the fast career, Smoak! Now if only my boss would stop pouting like a 6 year-old who has been told by their mother to clean up their room, that would be nice.

Felicity was interrupted in her inner rambling by Robert’s voice.
“I am pleased to inform you that, starting today, Isabel Rochev will be taking that position.”

And this time, Felicity’s jaw wasn’t the only one to hit the floor.

Chapter Text

Silence welcomed Robert's announcement.

Breaking the awkward moment, Robert continued “Isabel will be back tomorrow. I trust you will all welcome her back, and help her settle in her new functions. Have a good afternoon.” The call ended on this, leaving the room in a stunned atmosphere. 

People were openly watching Oliver, trying to gauge his reaction. He stayed calm and stoic, gathering the few sheets that were scattered in front of him. Walter seemed to snap out of his trance and cleared his throat, bringing everyone’s attention to him. 

“I suppose this will be all for today. Thank you for your attention, I’ll let you all know when the next meeting will take place. Good day.” He left the room, talking with the head of Applied Sciences. 

A brown haired man with glasses approached Oliver. “Queen. Interesting input you had there. All this concern about people losing their job. Very touching.” Sarcasm was literally pouring out of his words and his eyes were cold and full of dislike. Clearly, the guy wasn’t a big fan. 

“What can I say, Jones? QC is a family company. It’s supposed to have values.” Oliver shrugged, barely showing any emotion. 

“Since when do you have values?” Jones snorted. 

“Since that night with your mother. She really rocked my world.” Oliver smirked as he moved past him, quickly walking out of the conference room. 

Felicity swiftly followed, passing by the man named Jones who seemed frozen in place, with a furious look on his face as he watched Oliver walking away. 

This time Felicity took the stairs, needing the few minutes to process everything that had happened. If she was being honest with herself, she really wasn’t looking forward to being alone with her boss. 

As she stepped inside her office the sight of Oliver ready and waiting met her eyes. He was leaning on her desk with his arms crossed at his chest. 

“Felicity. I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t particularly want you as my assistant and I assume I’m not wrong when I say that you didn’t particularly want to be my assistant either?” 

“Yes, Mis…” she swiftly corrected herself. “I mean yes, Oliver. Or no. I never know if I’m supposed to answer yes, as in “yes, you are right” or no, as in “no, I didn’t”. What I meant to say is that you are right, being your assistant wasn’t exactly my dream job. But you should know that when I start something, I do it seriously. I commit 100%. And I know I made some mistakes today, but I would like to remind you that I was never an assistant before. I’m learning and you’ll soon realize I’m a very quick learner. You just need to give me a bit of time to adjust and…”

Oliver cut off her rambling. “Those mistakes were partly my fault. I can admit that. I forgot that you had no prior experience, unlike the other assistants I’ve had.” Passing a tired hand on his face, he sighed. “Let’s forget today even existed, alright? For now on, we’re stuck with each other. Let’s focus on trying to make this work as best as possible.” 

Felicity couldn’t help but feel a bit hurt by his words. She knew that she wasn’t really “executive-assistant-to-the- one-Oliver-Queen” material, but she was smart and probably more hard-working than most people in this company, judging by the several interactions she’s had with some of them. But the last thing she wanted was for him to pity her so she swallowed her pride and straightened her head, looking at him in the eyes. 

“Oliver, I’m sorry about this whole situation. You’re right. Let’s put it behind us and start afresh."

“Good. I have to say, though, your summary was rather impressive. And that cogena...” 

“Cogeneration,” she smiled.

 “Yes” Oliver huffed out a laugh. “Cogeneration. I didn’t understand a thing about it, except that it managed to make Lucas speechless. I feel like this alone is a reward in itself.” He winked at her, then got up from her desk. “I have to call my mother, now. Let her know about…” Not willing to finish his sentence, he just made a vague gesture with his hand. “I’ve also asked Sara to drop by and help you with some basic stuff. She’s going to show you around and give you more insight of how things work here.” Stepping inside his office, he quickly shut the door and fell on the sofa, fishing his phone out of his pocket. 

As Felicity sat down, she noticed the summary she had made. Oliver had probably dropped it on her desk so she could work on the notes he had promised Walter. 

Sighing, she logged in her session, and started completing the document with all the comments that had been said during the meeting.

 

 *** 

A small hand appeared out of nowhere startling her.

Raising her head, she let out a small smile, secretly relieved that it was only Sara who was wearing an indulgent smile. “Earth to Felicity?” 

“Sorry, Sara. Once I focus on something, I usually block everything out,” Felicity chuckled. “Oliver told me you would stop by and “show me around,” she added while doing the appropriate gesture with her fingers. 

Sara laughed. “That’s how he said it? It was more like “You either start acting like a boss or I’ll personally kick your ass so hard you won’t be able to sit for a week.” I’m quite surprised he didn’t mention it,” she whispered the last part. 

Felicity burst out laughing, mostly because the image of Sara, who was barely taller than her, overpowering Oliver, all strong and muscular, was hilarious. “I’d pay to see that!” 

“Pay to see what?” Oliver, seeing Sara’s arrival, had joined the two women. Apparently, the phone call with his mother had been short. After a couple of minutes, Felicity had noticed him putting his phone on the small coffee table and stepping in front of the windows, where he had been staring broodingly for the past 20 minutes.  

“Me. Kicking your ass,” Sara chirped. 

Oliver rolled his eyes and muttered something like “women…” under his breath. Clearing his throat, he looked at his friend. “Before you show her around, do you mind giving us a few minutes?” 

“Oh, sure. What do you say, Felicity? I’ll wait for you downstairs in the entrance hall? Might as well give you the grand tour!” 

“Perfect, I’ll meet you down there as soon as possible.” Felicity gratefully smiled and watched Sara retreat back until she was no longer in sight. Taking a deep breath she turned her gaze to her boss and waited for him to explain why he needed to be on his own with her. 

“You mentioned that you needed a couple of days to get back to Boston to start packing? How about you take the rest of the week? I’ve already made some arrangements and asked for someone to fill in for you.” 

Felicity suspiciously eyed him. “Oh. Yes, that would be very nice, thank you, Oliver. But… why do you seem in such a hurry? I mean it can wait and with all the things that have been going on maybe now is not the best of times to-” 

Oliver cut her off. “On the contrary,I think it’s the best of times.”  

“Ooo... Kay. If you say so. Do you need me to fix anything before I leave?” 

“As long as you make sure Walter gets your notes, it should be fine. Once you’re done with Sara, you can leave. I’ll see you on Monday.” He turned around and stepped back in his office, once again shutting the door and blocking her out. 

Felicity quickly stood up and hurried to the elevator, almost desperate to escape. 

Like she had said, Sara was waiting for her in the entrance hall, deep in conversation with a very impressively built black man, who was probably in his mid-thirties. As she was joining them, they both embraced and said their goodbyes. Felicity only caught a glimpse of what Sara told him “…wasn’t expecting that. Anyway, good luck for tonight, Dig!” As if she had sensed Felicity's presence, she turned around. “Oh there you are. I was afraid he’d be keeping you much longer. Too bad, you just missed one of Oliver’s bodyguards. He works for the security department, very nice guy.” 

They spent two hours exploring the building. Sara was kind enough to tell her about the way things worked, and who to ask for what. For anything related to computers (including the very much needed new processor), they were supposed to ask the IT department directly, but if it was office supply or any kind of other demand, she had to fill out a specifically formulated sheet and give it to one of the HR’s employees. Sara told her about meetings, board meetings, memos, and how to deal with “bitchy fellow assistants whose names start with an M”. 

They decided to stop for a cup of coffee near Sara’s office, where almost everybody had already gone home. It was quite eerie to see such a big open space with empty cubicles, and nothing but the sound of the air conditioning and the computers’ ventilation.

“Wow. It sure looks less impressive now that everyone’s gone.” Felicity stood, taking in the sight in front of her. 

Sara smiled. “I know, right? I actually like it when I’m alone. It’s also much easier to work. But truth be told, I prefer working here rather than being an assistant. It can get quite lonely.” 

Sitting on her desk, she motioned to her chair. “Have a seat, Ollie’s not expecting you anyway.” 

Felicity sat down and carefully put her cup of coffee on a small drawer nearby. “Why do I feel like you didn’t take me here for no reason?” 

“I wanted to have a small talk. I know today hasn’t been the best of days. But don’t let that get you down.” 

“I won’t. It’s just that… my life is miles away from what I was expecting. I feel like I made a mistake, I rushed into things because I really wanted to move away. But I’m not… I don’t fit in here. And I’m not sure I should try to.”  She looked at Sara, sighing. “Let’s be honest, even you saw it right away.” 

“I did. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. There are a lot of people here who do not fit either. And I think sometimes a rush decision can lead to good things. I wasn’t supposed to work here, you know. I was supposed to go to college, I wanted to study psychology. I dropped out after one month. Moira asked Robert to get me a place here. And it might not be the perfect job, but I like it. Give it a chance, you might like it too, one day. Who knows, you might even want to make a career in here!” 

Felicity laughed at her last words. “You’re right. I should try to… go with it and see where it takes me. I think it’ll be easier once I get all my stuff and find an apartment.” 

“I’ll help you with that once you get back. We’ll start looking together, it will be so much fun!” Clapping her hands, Sara stood up. “But for now, I’m taking you out for dinner. It’s on me, what do you say?" 

“I say I still need to finish that summary and send it to Walter Steele,” Felicity groaned, because the prospect of a relaxed evening was very tempting. 

Sara waved her hand. “Come on, it will take you, what, 20 minutes at most? I’ll wait for you. There’s this nice little Italian restaurant across the street, meet me there in half an hour?” 

“OK. 30 minutes, I can make that work.” A huge smile stretched her face as she gulped the last of her coffee and hurried to the elevators. 

Once she stepped inside her office, she was startled to see that Oliver was still there. He had taken off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and his tie was loose. He seemed deep in thought and didn’t even notice her. She quietly sat on her chair and finished her summary. Sara was right, it barely took her 10 minutes to be done with it. She printed the documents, placed them neatly on her desk and made sure to send a copy directly to Walter Steele’s secretary.

Gathering her coat and her purse, she hesitated, glancing towards Oliver’s office. Sighing, she put her purse back on the floor and went to knock lightly on the door.

“Oliver?” 

Her voice obviously startled him and he looked at her, eyes slightly confused as if he’d forgotten she was working there.

“Yes?” 

“Well, I just sent an email to Walter’s office with the summary. I also printed several copies. I left them on my desk, should you need one,” Felicity rushed to say. “Do you need anything before I leave?” 

“No. No, thank you. Have a safe flight.” Oliver picked up his pen again and started scribbling something down. Just as she was about to leave, he seemed to have a change of heart. 

“Felicity?” 

She stopped dead in her tracks and turned back to him. “Yes?” 

“As you know very well, the IT department doesn’t have any job opportunities right now. But I’ll ask for Sara to look into other positions inside the company that might be more suitable for you. You should give this some thoughts while you’re away, see which department would be a good fit?” He was barely looking at her, too busy playing with his pen. 

Felicity felt like a bucket of ice cold water had been poured over her. “Am I fired? Is this why you want me to go to Boston? So once I’m there, you’ll just let me know there is no need to come back?” Indignation pouring out of every word, she was struggling to keep her voice down. 

“No, not at all. You could be a great asset for this company, but maybe not in the marketing department?” 

“Don’t you mean 'maybe not as my assistant?'" 

“… that’s… That’s not what I meant.” At least he had the decency to look uncomfortable, Felicity noted. 

“You know what? You’re right. I could be a great asset for this company. Actually, I already am. And I’m sorry if it means that I can’t be at your beck and call to blow off some steam like all your other assistants were, but once you'll start considering QC’s interests above your own I’m sure we’ll make a good team. In the meanwhile, if there’s an open position in Applied Sciences, count me in.” With that, she turned around and didn’t bother closing the door as she walked away.

Nice Italian dinner? Screw that. I’m getting drunk tonight.  

  

Finally alone, Oliver glanced at his watch. It was a little past 6 and most of the employees had already headed home. He considered stopping at Laurel’s place, but decided against it. Even if his mother hadn’t seemed surprised by Isabel taking up such a high position, he knew better. Besides, spending the evening with Speedy would probably cheer him up. He never really pictured himself as VP, at least not before another couple of years – Hell he even told his mom yesterday. But it still felt like being stabbed in the back, because everyone expected him to get that position and he felt a bitter taste in his mouth every time he remembered the looks thrown his way in the conference room. Oliver Queen wasn’t new when it came to people staring at him, but he wasn’t used to reading pity in their eyes.

He knew that he had taken his anger out on Felicity. After that skype session with his father, once he had learned that Isabel would be getting a very high position, a position that was supposed to be his some day,… he had been overwhelmed with so many emotions, that he hadn’t found a way to deal with them properly. Anger had taken control and Felicity had been there to take the full blast. He had been unfair to her, but there was something about her… like she could take everything he would throw at her, and throw it right back at him. That sense of equality had thrown him off guard. Pushing her away was the best decision, he needed to be in charge. That’s how he had been raised, that’s how he was. And that girl was a threat to that. He needed an assistant who was soft and compliant, and if she could also help him blow off some steam… the better. Felicity wasn’t built to be an assistant, she was far too strong-willed for that. 

 

As he was lying in bed later that night, staring at the ceiling, it occurred to him that it was probably the first time something happening at work kept him awake.  

Once he had left the office, he had canceled his previous plans for the night and decided to spend the night home with his mother and little sister. Unsurprisingly, Moira had taken the news of her husband promoting his mistress stoically. She’s had to endure her husband’s behavior for more than two decades now and was used to it. There was also no way she would ever let her daughter see her distressed. Thea had been over the moon when Oliver had told her he’d spend the night home, which made him realize he had been more and more distant with his family. The pressure of behaving the way his parents were expecting of him had taken its toll on the sibling’s relationship. In order to escape the overwhelming expectations, he had drifted away from his little sister. 

He was interrupted in his thoughts by a small ping coming from his phone. Reaching on his nightstand, he quickly checked and saw that it was Felicity trying to call him. Huffing, he sent her to the voicemail and laid back once more on his pillows.  

Deciding that from now on he would try to be more present for his sister and mother, he finally managed to drift into a restless sleep. 

“Oliver!!” He woke up abruptly to his mother’s scream as she barged into his room. 

He jumped out of bed just as Moira turned on the lights. The expression on her face sent a shiver of fear down his spine. 

“Oh thank God, you're awake. Get dressed, you need to head to QC. There's been an explosion!"

 

Chapter Text

“Come on, don’t make me do it on my own!” Sara begged a very reluctant Felicity as she literally dragged her all the way to the small stage.

After a nice Italian dinner, along with an even nicer bottle of red wine, the two of them had decided to go out for a couple of drinks. Felicity definitely needed it and Sara was never one to let a friend drink alone. 

The pub where they had finally landed also offered, every Wednesday, a karaoke night. At first, none of them had wanted to give it a go. But two margaritas later, Sara had decided it was the best idea ever. 

“Next time, I’m going straight home,” Felicity mumbled as they made their way to the stage. “What did you even pick for a song?”

“Oooh I found the perfect song, don’t worry.” Just as she finished her sentence, the first notes of piano were heard. Felicity turned her head and glared at her while covering her mic. “'Bad Day', really?!” 

“Hey it’s spot on. Don’t sing off key,” Sara whispered back.



After two more songs, and as many margaritas, Sara called it a night. She had to pick up her mum at the airport at 7AM and it was well past midnight when Felicity got out of her cab on slightly wobbly legs. She kicked off her shoes as soon as she stepped inside her room, getting undress and leaving her clothes scattering the floor. She gazed longingly at her bed, but the day had been long and a shower would probably make her feel better.

She was just out of the shower, drying her hair with a towel, when a small ping on her phone caught her attention. Wondering who could be trying to reach her at that time of the night, she quickly took a look and realized that it was an alert. Frowning, she had to re-read the text several times for it to make sense. “Explosion near Starling City, QC steel factory blows up." She probably stared at the screen for a couple of minutes before her brain could catch up. With shaky hands, she tried to call Oliver, to ask if he needed her. In times of crisis such as this one was bound to be, she knew it would probably be all hands on deck. Her call was directed to his voice mail after two rings. He probably declined her call. How mature. He could have at least had the decency to let it ring out and feign sleep.

Biting her lips, she took a few seconds to decide what she was supposed to do. She wasn’t supposed to go to work anyway, and with the last words she’s had with him, he probably didn’t expect her to. But there was a voice who kept nagging her that QC was where she was had to be. If she wasn’t needed, then she’d leave. But if there was anything she could do, then it was worth a try. Making up her mind, she dressed up in a pair of jeans, a sweat shirt and put on a pair of flats. Not bothering with blow drying her hair, she just tied it in a messy bun and without a look back, she walked out of her hotel room, already calling for a cab and wondering where the hell her boss was.



***

The drive to Queen Consolidated didn’t take Oliver long. 

What took longer was to calm his mother down. Fortunately, Walter had showed up 15 minutes later, at Moira’s request. All that Oliver knew, all that anyone really knew, was that there had apparently been a gas leak and a QC steel factory had blown up, near Starling City. Thankfully, it hadn’t been the one in the Glades, or the number of casualties would have been dramatic. Even now, in the first hours after the catastrophe, there had been very little information. Despite that, everybody knew that the number of dead and wounded would be high. 

Public Relations always have a plan for everything. In case of an emergency like this one, QC becomes the headquarters. All the executives are to meet there and no one is to talk to the press before getting the green light. 

When Oliver stepped out of the car, he was surprised to see a familiar blonde figure pacing on the pavement in front of the entrance. Her hair looked very different and she was wearing casual clothes, but there was no doubt in his mind. That decisive gait clearly belonged to his assistant.

Taking the steps two at a time, he joined her, unable to hide the surprise in his voice.

“Felicity? What are you doing here?”

“Oliver! I had an alert about the explosion. I tried to reach you but you wouldn’t answer. I wasn’t sure what to do but I expected the executives to meet here. I thought I could be useful? Although that might have been the third margarita talking cause I don’t know much about steel factories to be honest,"she mumbled the last part to herself, avoiding his eyes.

“Oh. Thank you. I’m sure we could use your help somehow. To be honest, I don’t know much about steel factories either,” he gave her a tired smile as he reached for her shoulder. “Let’s go, journalists are bound to show up any minute now.”



Once inside, they didn’t waste any time and went directly to the main conference room, the one that they had left a few hours ago. There were only a few people already seated around the table. Denis Lewis and a few other ones from Public Relations were there – obviously, this was an event that called for Public Relations.

“Oh, Oliver, good. Isn’t Walter with you?” Mr Lewis asked.

“On his way, he should be here in a few minutes. What do we know, Denis?” Oliver took a seat and offered one to Felicity. 

“Not much, for now. It appears to be a gas explosion, from what the witnesses have said. The firefighters are still trying to contain it, but it appears most of the factory is gone. It was night shift, so there were less workers, but we’re still talking about 100 people who were supposed to be inside the building. Some have escaped, they are the ones who described the explosion. It was very sudden, and since there are no chemicals that could produce so much damage, the gas leak is, for now, the best explanation we have.” Sighing, he took off his glasses and pinched his nose. 

“We tried to reach your father, but we couldn’t get a hold of him. Did you have more success?” The forty year-old something woman that Felicity remembered from the day before spoke up.

"No, we tried, but couldn't get through. His assistant isn't answering either. My mother is staying home, she doesn’t want to leave Thea alone. Let’s not worry about that for now, he could be visiting a place with no good signal. It’s already early afternoon in Russia, after all.”

“He’s right. Robert is visiting our silver mine. It’s literally lost in the middle of nowhere. I’d be surprised if you could reach him at all today.” Everyone turned their head to the newcomer.

A beautiful woman with long brown hair was standing in the doorway. Felicity recognized her instantly: Isabel Rochev. She looks even meaner in person. Which is quite an achievement.

Stepping towards the table, she put her bag on the table. “We are going to have to hold a press conference as soon as possible. We must reassure our partners."

“Isabel, I’m not sure…” Mr Lewis tried to speak, but she quickly cut him off.

“Well, I am. Call the usual crowd, we’re hosting it as soon as possible.” Not really paying attention to her colleagues, she rumbled through her bag and took out a small stack of papers. “I met Walter downstairs. We both agreed that one of us should head to the factory. He’s on his way there and he’ll be helping the authorities. That means that for now on, I’m in charge here.” Her eyes never leaving Oliver, she threw the documents on the table. “This is all my assistant could find concerning that factory. I believe about 100 employees were on site?”

“Yes. More or less. A few apparently escaped, but the majority was trapped inside,” Oliver replied reluctantly, obviously struggling with the idea of having to answer to her yet keeping his tone cordial.

“Mark? Could you fetch us some coffee?” Isabel asked a tall, brown haired man that Felicity hadn’t noticed before. He quickly nodded and hurried through the door, apparently relieved to escape some of the tension that had risen since their arrival.

Denis followed him, presumably so he could make arrangements for the inevitable press conference. Only five people remained behind. Isabel and Oliver were still busy having a staring contest, and the forty year old woman was talking with one of her advisors. Felicity was starting to really doubt herself, as she was completely useless and had no idea what to do. Which is a first for me… at least I’m not babbling. Maybe too many margaritas actually can get me to shut up. Wow. I should try again in different circumstances. Is it the alcohol or the lemon though? Cause I like to drink wine, and usually it makes me talk even more. Maybe it’s the lemon mixed with alcohol?

“… she’s my new assistant.” Oliver’s words eventually caught her attention.

Isabel quirked an eyebrow. “And she’s here in the middle of the night, because…?”

Just with that, Felicity realized what it must have looked like. She had just arrived, in the middle of the night, with Oliver Queen. Hair completely disheveled. Felicity mentally facepalmed. Oh God, no. They’re going to think that we…

“I had an alert on my phone!” She blurted out, her cheeks flaming up. “So I tried to call Oliver, but he wouldn’t reply.” Turning towards her boss, she continued “Why didn’t you pick up by the way? You hung up on me at my first attempt. I went to voicemail after two rings, while I know very well it takes six rings on your phone,” she interrupted herself under his glare. “And it’s probably not the right time to talk about how I know your phone goes to voicemail after six rings… Anyway. I tried to reach you, I couldn’t and I decided that maybe I could be useful so I called a cab, stopped to get a double espressos cause I’ve had too many drinks tonight and I… and you didn’t need to know that.” Taking a deep breath, she felt her face burn with embarrassment. “I mean that I thought I should stop by and see if there was anything I could do to help.”

“Isn’t that… sweet. So much devotion in such a new employee. You sure know how to pick them, Oliver.” 

“Apparently, that’s not something I inherited from my father.” The fake smile he gave her should have been enough to see her back off, but apparently Isabel Rochev wasn’t someone who got easily intimidated. Before she could reply, Oliver continued:

“Alright, I think I’ll take all those papers down to my office, and my assistant and I will look through them. Should anything arise, call me on the direct line.” Taking this as her cue to leave the room, Felicity rose on her feet and followed him as he left.

As soon as the stepped inside his office, Felicity was surprised to see that someone else was already there. Oliver didn’t seem that surprised though and a resigned sigh escaped him as he welcomed the tall black man.

“Dig… I suppose my mother called you?”

“Yep. I’m to follow you until further notice.” His voice was deep, oddly comforting to Felicity. Noticing her, he reached to shake her hand. “I’m Dig. You must be Felicity?”

“Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” She couldn’t help but smile back at him. He had arms the size of trees but his hand was surprisingly soft and gentle.

They soon settled down in the small seating area, but Oliver was still restless and once again, found himself standing and staring broodingly at the window. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who is so intense and focused at… staring into emptiness.

Felicity, glad that she finally had something to do, printed all the data she could find about the steel factory, the number of employees, their healthcare and any other bit of information that she thought could be useful. Dig helped her, reading the docs and highlighting the important parts. After a while, Oliver joined them and started to read what they had found, adding notes and asking more questions. It took Felicity by surprise to see him suddenly getting involved, and even more when she realized his questions were not dumb at all, but rather insightful. 

It was almost dawn when a knock on the door interrupted them. Isabel, still looking incredible neat and beautiful despise the lack of sleep, had a slightly out of place gleeful look.

“Oliver? Everything is ready downstairs. We’re holding the press conference in the lobby. Denis will talk first and then I’ll answer a few questions with him. You should be there too because… well… it’s your name on the top of the building. With your father being away, you need to represent the Queen family.”

As it turned out, Denis had managed to get what looked like every single journalist in California. There was probably a hundred seats, and they were all taken. A few tables at the back held some refreshments, and more people were gathered near them. 

Denis quickly walked on the small stage – where the heck did they find a stage at this time? Do they have like emergency kit stages? Can you buy one at Ikea or something? If it’s in a kit, it’s probably in Ikea. Oh God. Now I want meatballs.

The long night was taking a toll on Felicity who was struggling to stay awake during Denis’s speech. She only caught the usual lines “we are doing everything we can to cooperate blablabla the entire company is with the victims and their families blablabla”. Felicity poured herself a cup of coffee, handing one to Dig who had stayed behind with her while Oliver had been asked to move to the small stage.

“He appreciates it, you know.” 

Felicity looked at Dig, who was keeping his eyes on the stage. She wasn’t even sure she had heard him right or if exhaustion was starting to play with her, when he added: “That you stayed. He won’t show it, but the fact that you came, tried to help. Hadn’t you been there he would have probably stared at that damn window all night long.”

She giggled at his words, knowing they might be true. “I was thinking that earlier. The man sure can brood.”

Looking at her with a teasing smile, Dig answered “Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Winking at her, he turned his attention back to Denis who was now giving his place to Isabel. Felicity quickly gulped the last of her coffee and poured herself another cup, that she drank just as fast. Quickly thanking whoever was up there that she was so reactive when it came to coffee, she was finally able to pay attention to what was being said.

And just in time it seemed, as the first words she managed to hear made her pale instantly:

“Queen Consolidated is a family company. Since Robert Queen isn’t here today, I’m sure his son will be able to fill his shoes and answer all the questions you have. I have to say, he probably knows Starling and its surrounding areas better than I do, since he grew up here.” Isabel turned to Oliver with a smile that probably looked genuine to the majority of people, but some, including Felicity, knew better. Whatever that woman wanted to do, it wasn’t for good reasons. And the slightly gleeful look she'd had when she came to Oliver’s office now made sense. She had been planning all of this. As for the reason why, Felicity didn’t have time to dwell on that. All she knew was that Oliver was still her boss and even if he had been nothing more than a jerk to her the day before, she couldn’t let him face those reporters by himself. It wouldn’t be right, under those circumstances, to let Isabel play a sick game of cat and mouse. Apparently, Dig reached the same conclusion.

“That bitch, she’s throwing him under the bus!” He cursed, passing a hand across his face.

Think, Felicity. Think. And fast. Inspiration struck her suddenly and she put a hand on Dig’s arm. “She’s not. Not if we have a say about it. I need a couple of minutes,” she quickly explained as a plan was already forming in her head. “Can you give me that? You work in the security department, can you cut off the electricity for 2 minutes? That’s all I need.” 

Dig looked at her, intrigued, but he was obviously a man used to act first and ask questions later. He just nodded his head and with that he was gone, moving much faster than a man of his size was supposed to.

Oliver, seemingly recovering real fast from the scheme, was just taking place behind the podium. His eyes wandered across the room and landed on her and she could see, clear as day, that he was lost. In those few seconds she realized how easy it was for her to read his emotions, as no one around her seemed to notice anything. She gave him a reassuring smile and tried to make a sign with her hands to make him understand he needed to start talking and gain some time. She wasn’t sure he understood, but he nodded towards a journalist from the front row. From where she was, Felicity couldn’t understand the question, but it didn’t escape her attention that he had picked a young looking woman. Good thinking, Oliver. Just charm her pants off for a couple of minutes.

From afar, Felicity was able to witness Oliver Queen being his usual charming and charismatic self. The one she had heard so much about, but didn’t really get to meet personally. She had had a small glimpse of his… talents on her first day, even though it had always been directed towards other women. That woman doesn’t stand a chance. 

Just when another reporter, a much older man with white hair and a very stern look, interrupted them so they could get back on topic, the lights went off. After a second of stunned silence, several voices were heard, asking people to stay calm. Felicity used the tablet that she’s had in hand ever since she had sent Dig on his mission to find her way to the stage. Oliver saw her thanks to the small light coming from it just as she put it on the podium. 

Whispering before he could even speak, she quickly explained. “I’ll guide you. Just read the key words I’ll type and you’ll be fine. Make sure to repeat the question somehow so I can hear it.” Just as she was about to step down, the lights came back and she caught a glimpse of the surprise in Oliver’s eyes. Surprise… and gratitude.

Fishing her phone from her purse, she opened once again the shared document that Oliver would be reading, ready to type down any accurate information he might be asked. 

She sat at one of the tables, and pulled another tablet from her purse – the one from her office, that she had used to research info about the factory earlier that night. Just as the first question was being asked, Dig reappeared and wordlessly took place beside her.

“He has my tablet. I’m gonna give him all the data we can find. He’s lucky I have such an obsession for techy things. I don’t think any of his other assistants even knew how to fire up a tablet,” she explained.

Dig snorted. “Let’s be honest; we both know that their professional aptitudes were not the main reason why he employed them.”

They both shared a look, but none of them had time to add something else as they heard Oliver’s voice, carried with the mic.

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure I heard right. You want to know how many employees were working and if that number was within the mandate of federal standards, is that right?”

Felicity could barely remember what happened the next hour. All she knew was that she probably broke her own record of words typed per minute and that she saw so many numbers that she even got dizzy. Dig was just as exhausted, but all of it had been worth it. Not much for the fact that Oliver had done good enough, and the slight hesitations or mistakes could easily be explained by the lack of sleep and the trauma caused by the night. No. What had made it worth it was the utter look of disbelief on Isabel’s face. 

“I’m still craving meatballs.”

Dig turned his head towards her, just as Oliver approached. “… what?”

“Meatballs. I’ve been craving them for hours now,” she explained, biting her lips.

“Why?” Oliver asked with an amused smile. He seemed much more relax now, and there was something more about him. Like confidence. Which was odd because if there was one thing Oliver Queen had never lacked, it was probably confidence. Felicity observed him silently, lost in thoughts, while the three of them were walking out of the lobby and headed to the garage.

“Mmh? Oh yes meatballs! It’s because of that stage, you know, I was wondering where they found it on such short notice. I suppose it’s like a kit stage? Which made me think of Ikea, which made me think of meatballs, not that you would know anything about Ikea meatballs.” She stopped dead in her tracks and frowned. “Do you even know Ikea??”

“Yes, Felicity, I know Ikea. I’ve never been there, and never had their meatballs, though.” Shaking his head, Oliver opened the backseat door for her. “But I know a place where you can get the best burger in Starling. And it’s open 24/7. Dig, what do you say? We won't know anything more in the next couple of hours anyway. Denis will call me as soon as we have new information.”

Dig was already behind the wheel when he answered. “I say we all deserve a Big Belly Burger.”

Once they were seated in their booth and had ordered their food, a small, awkward silence made Felicity slightly uncomfortable. 

“Sooo… do you come here often?” 

“No. We usually have them deliver at QC,” Oliver replied while loosening his tie. “We usually do that every Tuesday for lunch.”

“You’ll see, the food is delicious. You’ll beg to join us on next Tuesday.”

Felicity snorted, while Oliver looked sheepishly at his hands.

Quirking an eyebrow, Dig stood up. “OK… I can see there might be some issues here. I’m gonna go… somewhere while you two talk.” 

As soon as Dig was out of view, Oliver sighed and looked up.

“Felicity, I…” Clearing his voice, he continued. “I’m sorry. About what I told you yesterday. That was uncalled for. I shouldn’t have treated you that way. I was pissed at my father, at Isabel,… I took it out on you and I shouldn’t have.”

“Wow. Oliver Queen apologizing… where are the reporters now?!” She teased him.

Smiling faintly, his index finger followed a drop of condensation that was sliding down his glass. “I made sure there was none around.”

“Alright, then. Apologies accepted.” She took a sip of water and played with her straw. She knew she should probably make it harder for him but the night had been long.

“I know that I don’t have the right to ask you this, honestly I would completely understand if you said no… but I would really like you to stay. As my assistant I mean.” 

Felicity paused, the straw still between her lips.

“I thought you already had somebody else in sight?” she eventually asked suspiciously.

“… Not really. I kinda lied,” he laughed.

“Why do you want me to stay now? Is it because I helped you tonight?” Felicity frowned, not fooled by his careless behavior. 

“Yes. No. Probably. I don’t know. Does it matter?” 

“Well, yes it does. I don’t want you to give me that bullshit every time I say something you don’t like or every time your father pisses you off.” 

As Dig was coming back, he heard her last words and whistled. “Looks like you need more time, but the food is here.”

As the server handed them their plates, Felicity didn’t drop the topic.

“I’m serious, Oliver. I’m not staying if you don’t tell me why.”

“I want this company. I never realized how much I wanted it until my father named Isabel to a position that was supposed to be mine eventually. It’s not just because he gave it to someone else. It opened my eyes. I’ve been working for the company because that’s what I was supposed to do if I wanted to keep my trust fund. But with the explosion and everything else… I care about the people who work there. I’ve known this my whole life, it’s a legacy. And if tonight has proved anything, other than the fact that I’m not prepared to shoulder this responsibility...” he snorted, biting a fry. “It's that a typical assistant won't help me. I need someone like you.”

Dig, who had been too busy eating to comment, nodded. “You were incredible there. You kinda worried me when you asked me to cut the electricity, but I’m not sure there are that many people who could have pulled a plan like that in 30 seconds.”

Oliver agreed. “What you did was very impressive. I don’t think anyone noticed.”

Felicity smiled with the praise. “You thought that was impressive?” She wiggled her fingers, smirking. “You should see what I can do with those when I’m completely sober.” Reaching for her glass, she stopped herself once she replayed the words in her head. “Oh. No. I meant things I could do with wires and computers. Not with your… you know.” Glancing at them, she noticed them sharing an amused look. 

“Why did you, by the way? Help me I mean?” Taking a bite of his hamburger, Oliver changed the topic, probably taking pity on her.

“I didn’t think… I just saw her, trying to do… I don’t even know what. But something terrible had happened and no one should try to take advantage of a tragedy like that. So actually, it wasn’t so much helping you, but more like stopping her.” Smiling, she bit a huge piece of her cheeseburger. “Mmmh this is sooo good!” She moaned as she swallowed. “OK, you won. Count me in next Tuesday and probably the next ones too.”



Chapter Text

 

 

When Felicity stepped inside Queen Consolidated on Monday morning, her steps were confident and she was more at peace with herself. Today was supposed to be her second first day working as Oliver Queen’s assistant. Second first day, because she had realized that after their little talk at Big Belly Burger, their professional relationship had taken a new turn. Although she suspected that working with him would never be a piece of cake, as the man had his fair share of flaws, at least now there was a mutual honesty between them. It was a good start, much better than the “let’s hire the first girl I see because I don’t want my mom to pick my assistant for me”.

After their breakfast, they had all gone their separate ways. Felicity, back to her hotel room, had booked a flight to Boston and started making phone calls to find a moving company that would send her stuff all the way across the country. Thankfully, she didn’t have much, mostly books and clothes and half a dozen boxes full of computers bits and parts. She had found one quite fast, and she spent the weekend packing and saying goodbye to the few friends she still had there. As she was walking in the narrow streets of Beacon Hill for probably the last time, she felt at peace with herself. She had made the right decision and her future at Queen Consolidated was clearly looking brighter than she first had thought. 

But that wasn't counting with Oliver Queen’s manwhore ways.



Being that it was barely 9am, she wasn’t surprised to see that her boss still hadn’t arrived. Having only been gone for two days, she was taken aback by the amount of emails and messages waiting for her. Of course, with the gas leak at the steel factory, a huge amount of those were directly linked to the catastrophe. She had followed the news from the East Coast, and as far as she knew, there hadn’t been any new development. The number of victims had been high, like everyone feared: 86 people were presumed dead, with 50 of them still missing. The stock market had taken the news badly and QC had lost several points on Wall Street. Several investors were getting wary, the fact that there had been rumors that it could have been linked to industrial espionage had not helped at all. 

She was just finishing sorting Oliver’s messages when he arrived, with Dig in toe.

“Well, good morning you two!” She welcomed them with a smile.

“Felicity, good to have you back. Everything went well in Boston?” Oliver stopped by her desk, a cup of coffee and a newspaper folded under his arm.

Dig grinned at her, mouthing a “welcome back." He looked very intimidating wearing a formal black suit that she assumed was his official work outfit as Oliver’s bodyguard. 

“Great. All packed, I found a company where I could store the things I don’t need right now. They’ll ship them once I have found a place to live permanently.” Picking up the small stack of notes on her desk, she handed them to him. “Here are all your messages. Is there any news about the explosion?”

“Nothing for now. They are still investigating to find out what caused it.” Shaking his head as he took the notes he sighed. “My mother and I spent the weekend visiting families. We are now gonna have to focus on reassuring our partners and shareholders for the next coming weeks.”

“What can I do to help?”

“For now, there’s nothing much we can do. I will know more after I meet with Walter this afternoon though. In the meanwhile, could you look into our archives and select five ad agencies we usually pick to handle our accounts? I’ll have to interview them by the end of the month.” 

"Of course, but what happened to the agency we had?" Felicity asked curiously.

"Their contract is up and we've had some...issues with the team they assigned to us," Oliver said uncomfortably, walking toward his door.

"What kind of issues? Was it slander? Infringement?" She asked, waiting for clarification.

To her surprise, Dig snorted. "Too many females." 

"Wha...oh! Oh. I'll get right on that," she said looking away from the duo as they walked into the privacy of Oliver's office.

Glad to finally have something to do apart from answering the phone and sorting mail, Felicity lost herself in work. Thankfully, the archives were well organized. It would have been much better if everything had been on the company’s network, obviously, but it also gave her the chance to wander a bit in QC’s dark corners. Once she had settled her choice on five companies that have had contracts with QC in the past, based on their efficiency, all that was left to do was write a brief summary for each of them and arrange a meeting.

Deciding that all of this could wait until the afternoon, Felicity went back to her office to pick up her purse, heading to the small café across the street. According to Sara, they made the best Caesar salad in Starling and also had a great selection of organic fruits for dessert. As usual, she ordered her meal for take-out, planning on eating in her office. Even if she was slightly more comfortable, she still didn’t have that many friends with whom she could share her meal, Sara having taken the morning off.

She wasn’t surprised once she was back at QC, to see that both men had left the office, probably heading to their own lunch. Setting her meal on her desk, she quickly used her sanitizing lotion before opening the Styrofoam box. Too busy checking her email inbox, she didn’t notice that the small container with the salad dressing got knocked sideways and it was too late to catch it. Half of her Caesar dressing ended up on her desk, getting dangerously close to the files she was supposed to work for Oliver.

“EEEEEEP!” Jumping out of her chair, she grabbed the napkins to absorb the liquid. Catastrophe avoided. Throwing the gooey tissues in the bin, she stared at the mess she had made for a few seconds. I need to clean this. And I have no idea where they hide the cleaning supplies here.

Biting her lips, her eyes wandering across the room, she stopped at one of the doors that led out of Oliver’s office. If she remembered correctly, it was supposed to be his personal bathroom. She quickly made her way across the room, thankful that at least no one had been there to witness her clumsiness at its finest.

“He must have some paper towels at the very…” Words got caught in her throat as she took in the sight in front of her. 

Oliver was standing, one hand on the wall beside the shower. The other hand was currently wrapped around the head of a dark haired woman, who was kneeling in front of him. Well I think it’s a woman, pretty hard to be sure since I can only see her back. Oh, high heels. Probably a woman, then. Unless he’s into… Stop right there, Smoak.

“Felicity!” Oliver had opened his eyes at the commotion of having someone barging through the door and it had taken a second for him to react. The woman at his feet turned her head as well, giving Felicity a clear view on…

“Oh my God, you’re circumcised!” She blurted out, turning around and hiding her eyes behind her hands. Please tell me I didn’t just comment on my boss’s penis…

She heard Oliver clear his throat and the sound of ruffled fabric as he asked her: “Felicity… could you give us a minute?”

“Oh sure, yeah… I’ll do that. Take as long as you need.” Walking away, she added under her breath, “Preferably long enough for me to make it to Greenland."

She had barely made it back to her desk, in record time despite her shaky legs, when she was greeted by a joyful voice.

“Miss Felicity! What a pleasure it is to see you again!” Charming smile full on display, Tommy Merlyn approached her in a few steps, grabbing her hand, chivalrously kissing it. 

Just what I needed… Perfect timing, Mister Merlyn.

“Mister Merlyn.” Taking a deep breath, she fiddled with her hair. “It’s good to see you again, too. Unfortunately, Mister Queen is… unavailable at the moment.” Avoiding his eyes, she made a beeline for her chair where she fell more than sat.

“I’ll just have the pleasure of keeping you company until he comes back then.” Winking at her, he half-sat on her desk, while Felicity proceeded to clean it with a pack of tissues she had found in her purse and some of her sanitizing lotion.

Interrupting herself in the middle of her task, she raised her head. “Oh, no. I mean, it could be a long time and…” 

Tommy cut her off. “Non-sense, he called me 20 minutes ago to ask me to drop by." Watching her cleaning her desk, he added “let me help you with that. You need water and soap, not mango-flavored hand cleanser.” Standing up, he moved to Oliver’s office.

“Wait, no! Don’t go in there!” Hurrying to get past him, she blocked the access to the bathroom.

“Hum… is Oliver in the bathroom?” He quirked an eyebrow at her. “I thought you said he was… Oooh. I see...” He snorted, crossing his arms on his chest. 

“No, no. It’s nothing like that, he’s just getting a…” Do not say blowjob, do not say blowjob, do not say…

“Bikini wax!” She blurted the first excuse that came to her mind, her own eyes growing big as soon as the words left her lips.

At least it had the advantage of throwing Tommy off balance. “… a bikini wax?”

Felicity was spared the humiliation of having to explain what she had said by the sound of the bathroom door opening. 

“Helena!” Smiling, Tommy quickly hugged the woman. Now that Felicity could properly see her, she could see she was stunning. Pale complexion, blue eyes, never-ending legs… the whole package.

“Tommy, what a pity. I was just leaving.” Hugging him back, Helena then turned towards Oliver. “I’ll see you around, I guess?”

She passed Felicity without acknowledging her, to her great relief. How does she manage to still have such a perfect lip makeup? No smudge, nothing… 

“Well, I feel better now. Knowing you were with Helena, I mean. Your assistant had me worried for a while,” Tommy slyly said.

Oliver swapped his head at Felicity, who was doing her best at looking everywhere but at any of them. “Why?” 

“Let’s just say that Miss Felicity did everything she could to keep from walking into that bathroom.” Sighing dramatically, he added “even if it included scarring me for life with a mental picture that will probably be engraved in my soul until my dying day.” 

Looking at Felicity who was still quite red in the face, Oliver frowned. “What did you tell him?”

“Hum, I… well, you see… it’s silly really but…” 

“Come on, Ollie. Let’s all forget about it. You guys need to work on her excuses for next time, though. Especially if I’m not the one she has to stop.” Patting his friend on the back, Tommy went to sit on the sofa, crossing his legs at the ankles.

“Oh no. There won’t be any more cover up. Nope. From now on, it will be strictly business.”

“Starting with not barging into your boss’s bathroom uninvited, I hope?” Oliver dryly asked.

Opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water, Felicity wished the floor would open up and swallow her. Yep, she would gladly fall through all 16 floors, walk out of the building and never come back. 3,2,1.

Taking a deep breath, she was finally able to form a coherent sentence for the first time in what seemed like eternity. “I’m sorry, I thought you had left with Dig for lunch. And there was no sign anyone was there. I can promise you, that starting this very moment, I will never ever walk unannounced in any closed room you might be in with… company.” Walking backwards, she stepped out of Oliver’s office. “I’m going to leave you two, now. You’ll have the 5 agencies you requested by the end of the day.”



“Good.” Closing the door behind her, Oliver passed a hand over his face and glared at his best friend. “OK, are you gonna tell me what the fuck happened?”

“Hey!” Raising his hands in defense, Tommy grinned smugly. “You’re the one who was locked inside a bathroom with Helena Bertinelli doing something that caused your assistant to turn so red I’m pretty sure her skin tone will never be the same again.” He turned his head, dreamily gazing at the blonde who was sitting in her chair, looking sadly at her salad – sans dressing.

“She’s charming. And very loyal.” 

“Don’t,” Oliver interrupted his reverie.

“I haven’t done anything!”

“Yet. But I know that look.” Quirking an eyebrow, Oliver settled down on the chair opposite Tommy.

“What can I say? I just found out I have a weakness for blushing assistants. Although to be fair, I thought that particular species had been extinct for a while.” Rummaging through the pocket of his leather jacket, he handed Oliver a car key. “Here you go. My Porsche keys. Why do even need them? Don’t tell me you crashed yours again.”

Oliver huffed out a laugh. “No. Believe it or not, this time it’s at the garage for maintenance only.”

“I hope your mechanics didn’t die of shock.” Standing up, Tommy passed a hand in his hair. “I should be going. I know you probably have more work than usual, with that explosion. Any progress in the investigation?”

Oliver stood up as well, walking his friend to the door. “No. They suggested we upgrade our security though, for risks of retaliation from a grieving next of kin or something.”

“Shit. That explains why your mother has Diggle following you around.” Patting his friend on the back, Tommy made his way towards the elevator, but stopped once he saw Felicity throwing her lunch in the garbage.  

“Please, tell me you have something else to eat.”

“Nope. Well, I still have a banana…” Glaring at the fruit, she shuddered. “Not gonna be able to eat it after what I just saw, though.”

“I’m taking you to lunch then. I am a gentleman and a gentleman would never let such a lovely woman starve to death.” 

Before Felicity could say anything, Tommy turned to face Oliver who was observing them quietly from the threshold. “I’m taking your assistant out for lunch."

Felicity looked hopefully at Oliver, but he just shrugged and walked back into his office, leaving his assistant deal with his best friend.

“Mister Merlyn, …” Felicity started, taking a deep breath.

Interrupting her with a charming smile, Tommy handed her purse. “Please, call me Tommy. You’re gonna hurt my feelings.”

“… Mister Merlyn.” Insisting on his last name, she looked at him square in the eyes. “I don’t think this would be appropriate. Not to mention, I am sure you have far more important things to do than taking your best friend’s assistant to lunch.” 

“Maybe more important, but far less appealing I can assure you,” he responded to her icy stare with a seductive gaze. “Come on, one lunch, you pick the place and I promise that I will never tell anyone about that bikini wax.” He whispered the last words, throwing falsely worried looks around them.

Felicity quirked an eyebrow. “Tommy Merlyn is reduced to blackmail to get a girl to accept an invitation to lunch? Seems like your reputation is a bit overrated.”

“You mean you looked up information about me, Miss Felicity? I’m flattered.” Grabbing her elbow, he gently pushed her towards the elevator. “I knew there was something special between us from our first conversation.”

“We barely talked.”

“There was no need. You had me at 'Mister Merlyn'.” Putting a hand over his heart, he pushed the button to get to the ground floor.

“And here I was, thinking calling you that was hurting your feelings…” Felicity sighed. “Oh well. I guess I’ll have to find something else.”




It turned out, much to Felicity’s surprise, that Tommy Merlyn was actually very good company. Between reassuring her over the bathroom drama (“don’t worry, almost every single female who works at QC has seen Oliver’s junk. You’re part of the club now!”) and the tale of mischievous Tommy and Ollie when they were kids, the hour went quickly. 

They parted ways at QC’s entrance, Felicity mocking the pout on Tommy’s face at her refusal to give him her phone number.

“I haven’t said my last word, Miss Felicity!” He playfully warned. “This city is full of grown-up women who have tried and failed to resist the Merlyn Charm!”

Turning around, she grinned mischievously. “Then I guess you’ll have to try again once I turn 21!” Winking at his shocked face, she quickly turned around and stepped inside the building.

She was still smiling when she reached her desk and a quick glance towards Oliver’s office confirmed that he was still in a meeting with Walter Steel. Secretly grateful, she opened a new Word document, fully intending on finishing the task Oliver had asked of her in record time. Analyzing the pros and cons of each agency proved to be a bit harder than  she had expected, and she was still struggling with the last one when she heard Oliver’s door being opened.

Jumping to her feet, she plastered her most professional smile on her face, greeting Mr Steel. After all, he was the VP of the company that was currently employing her and it was their first formal meeting.

“Miss Smoak, what a pleasure to finally introduce myself properly.” With a gentle smile, he shook her hand. “I read your summary about cogeneration, and it was extremely interesting. Oliver told me it was your idea. It made me a bit curious about you, I admit. I looked up on you. Your curriculum in MIT is very impressive.” Oh, that accent… I could listen to it all day. 

Blushing, Felicity started fiddling with her hands. “Oh, thank you. I’m glad I could be useful. And by that, really useful, not bring-me-a-cup-of-coffee useful. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It’s just that I’m more like hands-on approach kinda girl. But not hands-on in a not appropriate way! Don’t worry, I’m very appropriate. It’s actually my middle name.” She huffed out a small embarrassed laugh, praying something would stop her babbling, knowing she was unable to do so herself. “OK, I lied, it’s not. It’s Meghan. My middle name, I mean.” She was just going to add something more, no doubt creating even more damage, when a hand touched the small of her back. She took a deep breath, turning her head to face Oliver.

He gave her an amused smile, lightly shaking his head. “Walter was just telling me it would be a good move if I went, along with other executives, to meet some of our partners. To reassure them, show our confidence, you know, the usual. Appearances at all cost.”

“Oh?” She looked at both men, not sure where this was heading.

“Yes, we’re still figuring out who would be the best group to send, but Oliver is a sure choice. He’s a Queen, he is the face of this company,” Walter gently explained.

“You’ll have to come with me, though. I know you just arrived but don’t worry, this won’t be happening until at least next week.” 

“Wait, how long will we be gone?” Felicity asked, intrigued, already thinking about logistics. She still needed to find a place to live, after all.

“Probably at least a week, or two. It’s all going to depend on how things are moving forward with the investigation and what kind of damage we are supposed to repair. If all goes to plan we will also use this opportunity to move along with the cogeneration and the whole green company rebranding.” 

Walter interrupted him. “I’m actually late for another meeting. Miss Smoak, it was a pleasure to meet you.”

Shaking his hand once more, she just had the time to reply “Likewise” and he was already gone.

Facing her boss, she couldn’t keep the concern out of her voice. “But I still need to find a place to live, I’m supposed to start looking tonight. If I leave next week, how am I going to do that?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out. Has Dig returned yet?” He gave her a reassuring smile, already getting ready to retreat back to his office.

“No, I haven’t seen him since this morning. Should I call him, or…?”

“No, there’s no need. Send him through once he arrives though.” 

We’ll figure it out, we’ll figure it out… you mean I will have to find a solution.



Dig arrived shortly after that, and both men spent their time in Oliver’s office while she finished her report which definitely took her longer that she had thought.

She knocked on his door, bringing the stack of papers and hoping he wouldn’t have anything else for her to do. She was supposed to meet with Sara, who had already listed a few places for her to visit. With this whole trip that was supposed to happen, she really couldn’t afford to waste more time. She needed to find an apartment, and fast.

“Oliver? This is the report you asked for about the agencies.” She hurried to his desk, handing him the documents. “Anything else I can do?”

“No, thank you. I'll see you tomorrow."

She was just about to turn around when Dig’s voice stopped her. He was seated on the sofa, reading a newspaper. “Felicity? Oliver mentioned you needed a place to live?”

Surprised, she threw a small glance at her boss. “Hum, yes. I’m staying at a hotel for the moment.”

“There is an apartment to rent in my building. It’s small, one bedroom, but the neighborhood is nice. I can give you the landlord’s phone number?”

“Oh, wow, that would be great. I’m supposed to visit a few places with Sara tonight actually, I could also try to visit that one.” 

Reaching in his pocket, Dig pulled out his phone and, grabbing a pen, he scribbled on a piece of the newspaper he was reading. Tearing the page, he handed her the phone number. “Just tell him you’re calling on behalf of John.”

“Thank you,” she beamed at him.

“Don’t mention it,” Dig smiled, picking up his newspaper to resume his reading. 

Taking this as her cue to leave, Felicity grabbed her purse and coat, already calling Sara to let her know she would wait for her in the small café across the street.




It turned out that two of the apartments Sara had found were already rented. They visited the last one, but Felicity saw a cockroach in the kitchen and walked out right away. Very grateful for whoever in Dig’s building had decided to move out, she called the landlord who agreed for a visit the next day. Having nothing else to do, they decided to have a quiet movie night.

The two girls were currently sitting on Sara’s couch, eating a pizza they had picked up on their way to her small condo. Pretty Woman was playing on TV but neither of them were really paying attention.

“Wait, you what?!”

“I walked in on him mid-blowjob.” Hiding her face in a pillow, she added: “and from his face it seemed like a really good blowjob.”

Sara burst out laughing. “Oh my God! Not only are you the only assistant who doesn’t sleep with him but… You also cockblock him with other women!”

Standing up, she bowed at Felicity feet. “I am not worthy.”

“Shut up,” Felicity giggled. “I can’t remember being that embarrassed in my life. Ever.”

“What did he say?” Sara sat down again, grabbing the pillow Felicity had been using as a shield.

“… He just asked me to give them a minute. He hasn’t mentioned it since then.”

“Yeah, Ollie is very open-minded when it comes to sex. He’s probably had an audience before.”

Not willing to dwell on that particular mental picture, Felicity swiftly tried to change topic. “But… he’s dating your sister, isn’t he? I mean, don’t you mind?”

Sara sighed, grabbing the bottle of wine and pouring herself another glass.

“Ollie has always been a cheater. Laurel prefers to look the other way. I’m not going to feel bad about something she is fully aware of, yet doesn't want to acknowledge,” she shrugged.

Sensing there might be something more, but also that Sara didn’t seem comfortable discussing it, Felicity stood up, deciding to call it a night. “Well, I should get going. Thank you for your help, I’ll let you know how it goes with the apartment tomorrow.”

Walking her towards the door, Sara smiled. “My pleasure, really. It’s fun to have someone my age to talk to. Most of my friends left for college and went to live in another city. And the people I work with are either older or…”

“Back-stabbing bitches?” Felicity continued, with the shade of a smile on her face.

“I couldn’t have said it better!” Shivering, Sara frowned. “Are you sure you don’t want to call a cab? It’s chilly out there.”

“Nah. I lived in New England, remember? Besides, it’s just a couple of blocks. I’ll be fine," Felicity waved, already walking down the stairs.



The short walk back to her hotel let her clear her mind. The past week had been quite a whirlwind, new city, new job, new people. Yet, she felt confident that she was exactly where she was supposed to be. At least for now.

Chapter Text

The next couple of days brought some kind of a routine for Felicity. Oliver started to give her more tasks, and was slowly but surely starting to see her as a real colleague. She was still learning, but he was now much more inclined to help her. She had actually discovered, much to her surprise, that Oliver was quite a patient man. Her babbling, which always tended to annoy people around her, was usually welcomed by an amused smile or a quirked eyebrow.

The bathroom incident, as Felicity called it, had never been mentioned again, to her great relief. She was more than ready to bury it deep down in her memory even if she was woman enough to admit Oliver Queen’s reputation was… truly deserved in some area.

She had visited the apartment, which was lovely, and had signed the lease right away, not willing to risk losing it. It was on the second floor of Dig’s building, with big windows and even a small walk-in closet. She had been surprised when the landlord had told her that a safety deposit wasn't necessary but wasn’t about to complain; her savings had been running low, especially since she still had to buy furniture.

She had made arrangements to get the boxes she had stored in Boston delivered during the next weekend. Unfortunately she would be out of town with Oliver, so Sara had volunteered to receive them. The two of them were currently driving outside of town, planning to spend the morning at IKEA. Felicity needed at least a bed, as well as a table, chairs and all those little things like towels, glasses, curtains or, as Sara insisted to buy her, a plush shark. As long as it’s not a kangaroo.

They had just made it back to Felicity’s new home when Dig had joined them, helping them unload the car.

The three of themended up battling with the building instructions for the secretary she was planning to install at the far side of the living room, near the windows.

Raising his arms, Dig threw the offending paper on the floor. “I give up. You’re the one who went to MIT. Figure it out, I’m going to order pizza.”

“Hey! I majored in computer sciences, not… obscure Swedish blueprints and how to translate them in English.” Picking up the instructions, Felicity stuck her pencil in her ponytail. “Sara don’t you dare leave me alone!”

Sara grimaced, having been caught on the act as she was tiptoeing to the kitchen. “I was just going to help Dig with the… pizza ordering.”

Felicity glared at her. “I’m sure he can manage alone. So, apparently I’m supposed to introduce a ‘nail D’ into that rubber thingy…”

“Oh look, I found two of those!” Sara squealed, holding them proudly.

“Are you sure they’re D’s? They look like B’s to me.” Frowning, Felicity scrutinized the instructions. “You know what? I give up. I don’t need it right now, let’s just put everything back in the box, I’ll do this another time.”

“Oh thank God.” Sara didn’t waste any time, picking up the empty box and shoving all the pieces in it.

Fortunately, the table and chairs she had bought had been much more simple. By the time the pizza had arrived, they could at least sit comfortably.

“So, when are you guys leaving?” Sara asked as she grabbed her fifth slice. The other two had been done 10 minutes before but it seemed like Sara Lance had quite the appetite.

“On Thursday. There is this small diner or cocktail at the Queen’s Mansion the night before with some of QC’s business partners who live around here. Then we’re just going to travel around the West Coast. They want to focus on this area for now.” Felicity put down her food, taking a sip of water. “I’m really not looking forward to traveling with all those people I don’t really like.”

“Well, thank you. Although you could have let me know about your feelings before I built your table,” Dig slyly stated.

“Oh no, of course I didn’t mean you!” She threw him her napkin. “You know what I mean, I’ll have to be with all those executives in endless meetings and receptions and… Oh no.” Her eyes grew big as she suddenly realized something.

“What is it?” Sara asked, slightly alarmed, sharing a concerned look with Dig.

“I don’t have the appropriate wardrobe for all these functions! I have a few formal outfits, but not that many!”

“Aaaand I take it as my cue to leave” Dig stood up, pushing his chair back. “If you need help tomorrow with the painting, just give me a call.” He seemed in a hurry to escape what was, no doubt, going to turn into girl talk.



And right he was, for 3 hours later, both girls were lying on Sara’s bed, exhausted, surrounded by what looked like dozens of clothes.

“OK. So we have two little black dresses, that can be used day or night. A blazer to make it look professional as well as a pashmina for a glamour look. You own a pair of Mary-Janes, high heels and classic ballerinas. A red cocktail dress if you need to wear something fancier. You must take that grey dress with the yellow squares on the hips. It makes your ass look fantastic,” Sara summarized their treasure hunt, counting on her fingers.

“This is a business trip, I don’t need to show off my ass!” Felicity giggled, pushing her hair out of her face.

“An ass like that should always be showed off” Sara solemnly said. “Take two of your black dress pants, two pencils skirts and some of those librarian blouses. Also, don’t forget casual clothes, like jeans, t-shirts or sweaters.”

“Why would I need those?”

“You might visit a factory, or be invited to a boat party. Point is you need something comfortable.”

“I still need something to wear for the cocktail at the Queen’s mansion. It’s apparently very formal, not sure a simple black dress will cut it” Felicity bit her lips. “I do have that dress that my mum sent me but it’s very form-fitting. Wouldn’t that be out of place?”

“Oh, honey. Those cocktails are just an excuse to wear something slutty. Do your worst!”





On Sunday night, her suitcase was already packed. She was still staying at the hotel for a couple of nights, not wanting to be surrounded by the fresh paint smell. Sara had spent the entire afternoon with her, painting the bedroom and living room in a tender shade of mint green and Felicity was really pleased with the result. It gave a very homey feeling to the place and the light touches of pink she was planning to use for decoration would just give enough of a girly vibe. She had planned to head to a flea market, but couldn’t find the time. Etsy would have to do for now.

It turned out that work got much heavier than the previous days. Knowing Oliver was to leave for an extended trip, they had to make sure everything was ready and all the projects he had been working on had been either approved, or at least analyzed as to not be held back. Oliver and Felicity even had to pull an all-nighter on Tuesday night, having ordered Chinese. They had soon discarded both their offices and were currently sprawling all over the small conference room. Surrounded by papers, reports, documents and a few containers of now-cold Chinese food, Oliver was lying on his back, right on the table, listening to Felicity as she was reading the notes she had scribbled down. She was sitting with her feet underneath her, having abandoned her flats hours ago.

Quickly glancing at the clock, she realized that it was almost midnight. They were the last persons still in the building as far as she knew, Oliver having sent Dig back home, not willing to keep him awake as well.

Yawning, Oliver stood up, ruffling his hair and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Felicity let out a small smile at the sight. Despite his borderline intimadating looks, he often had a simple boyish charm that really amused her. She knew it wasn't a side of him most people were used to.

“Why are you smiling?” Jumping off the table, he reached for one of the boxes with the food, sniffing it. “Is this the orange duck?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. But judging by how long it’s been sitting there, does it really matter?”

Oliver chuckled. “Probably not.” Taking a bite, he offered her the box, with the chopsticks still inside.

Shaking her head, she grabbed her fork and took a bite. Yep, duck.

“Come on, you have to eat Chinese food with chopsticks. Let me teach you.” Laughing, he handed her the sticks and sat on the table right in front of her.

Felicity glared at him. “Do you really think I never tried to eat with sticks before? It just… doesn’t work. And then the food gets cold and I barely ate and I’m frustrated.”

“The food is already cold, Felicity,” he smirked at her.

Rolling her eyes, she sighed. “Fine. Teach me, Oh Grand Stick Master.”

Grabbing her right hand, he made her hold one of the chopsticks. “Don’t grip it so hard, your hand needs to stay supple and flexible. It’s like when you’re holding a…”

Felicity quirked an eyebrow, her lips twitching. “A…?”

“Hum,” Oliver coughed and she was surprised to see a slight blush appear on his cheeks.

“Oliver Queen, are you blushing?!” She burst out laughing at the idea that Oliver Queen could blush over such an innocent innuendo.

“Shut up. A brush. It’s like when you’re holding a brush, OK?” Placing the second stick between her index and middle finger , he continued: “and now you just… wiggle it.”

“Oh. Ooooooh. No one ever told me I had to wiggle it, Professor Queen! All those years I could have been eating sushi properly, if only anyone had thought to tell me that vital piece of information!” She sarcastically exclaimed, delicately wiggling her stick, which ended up dropping from her hand despite her best efforts.

Oliver looked as it fell down on the floor, trying to stay stoic but losing the battle as an amused grin grew on his face. Bending forward a little, until he was just close to her ear, he whispered. “And I thought you were good with your fingers, Miss Smoak.”

This time, it was Felicity’s cheeks that turned slightly pink.

Straightening, Oliver stood up, reaching for his jacket. “Come on. It’s late and we both need to rest. I’ll drive you home.”

 

***


“I didn’t know you grew up in Vegas,” Oliver said once they had left QC’s garage. He was driving slowly and carefully, not wanting her to think he was a reckless driver. He used to be one, but he had grown from that and matured enough to realize how dumb it was to take risks on the road. 

“Yep. Born and raised. I moved to Boston once I got accepted to MIT.”

Resting her head against her seat, sFelicity closed her eyes. 

“I really don’t see you as a Vegas girl, no offense."

Felicity laughed. “None taken. I actually take it as a compliment.”

“You never thought of going back there once you graduated? Most people go back to their hometown.”

“No. It was never the plan. The plan was to work for a company that offered the possibility of an interesting career. Usually those are either on the East Coast or here, in California.”

“So why did you pick California? Your parents must be glad though, it’s close enough to Nevada.”

“I just wanted a change of scenery.”

Sensing she didn’t want to discuss it more, Oliver remained silent. Soon enough, he pulled up outside her building, turning in his seat to face her. “Alright then. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Opening the door, she stepped outside the car. “Yep. Goodnight, Oliver.” She quickly walked up the few steps that lead to her building entrance then turned around as she opened the door, waving at him. He waited until he was sure she had made it safely inside, then started the car, heading to his own home.

In two days, they were supposed to leave with another dozen of employees. He really wasn’t looking forward to spending that much time with Isabel, who had volunteered to go as well, leaving QC in Walter and Robert’s hands. They were going to travel by jet, which was utterly ridiculous to him since most of their destinations could be easily reached by car.

At least he would have Dig and Felicity with him. Dig, so he’d have someone to watch sports with and Felicity so… he didn’t really know what, but he knew in the few days she had been his assistant, she had managed to make herself irreplaceable. Not only with her brains, but also her personality. She had been like a breath of fresh air, forcing him to see things differently. He had been doing his job without much passion, doing the strict minimum ever since his father had hired him. Felicity’s enthusiasm had been contagious and he had found himself finding gratification in what he was doing. 



Wednesday saw the return of his father – just in time for the reception that Moira had organized as a way to bring QC’s employees together. Or at least the executive employees, as Oliver doubted Moira had invited the catering team. He wouldn’t deny that he spent most of his day avoiding Robert, still not totally over his betrayal. He wasn’t self-centered enough to think his father had only promoted Isabel to spite him and he knew she had skills – and the appropriate shark temper. Yet, the pill was hard to swallow that he would openly give his mistress so much power into what he had always been proud to call “a family legacy”.

Felicity and he had spent the day tying loose ends, making sure he was up to date in all of his projects. He had sent her home early, so she could get ready for the cocktail party. After making sure one last time that there was nothing more to do, he had left as well.

That’s how he found himself, two hours later, sipping a glass of champagne while making small talk with two women who worked, as far as he was aware, for the Applied Sciences Department. The party was just starting, most of the guests had already arrived and small groups had formed in the Mansion’s reception hall.

He felt a small hand grab his arm from behind and he smiled automatically, recognizing the touch.

“Laurel,” he welcomed her with a smile. Kissing her cheek, he added “you look beautiful, as always.” It was true. She was wearing a silky dark blue dress, with a thin silver belt showing off her small waist. Laurel had always known how to dress accordingly to this kind of event, something his mother was, for some reason, always proud of. 

“Thank you,” she smiled at him, keeping her hand on his arm. He felt annoyed by the gesture, even if it was probably nothing more than affectionate. He felt like she was marking a territory, something he never was comfortable about. 

“Laurel, this is Eileen and Rosalia. This is Laurel, my girlfriend,” he said, introducing the three of them. “Would you like something to drink?” he asked, looking at Laurel, who was the only one without a glass.

“I’d love to, but your father was looking for you. He actually sent me, asking if you could meet him in his office. It seemed important.”

Sighing and squaring his shoulders, Oliver excused himself. He had been successful at avoiding his father all day, but he knew he couldn’t be that lucky any longer. He made his way across the room until he ended up in the much quieter hallway. His father’s office was on the first floor, near the library.

Taking the steps two at a time, he impatiently knocked on the door, willing to end this as soon as possible.

“Come in,” his father’s assured voice came through the door.

Walking inside, he found him contemplating the sight from the window. Night had already fallen, but the garden lights were on, making the view quite stunning.

“Oliver. I’ve been trying to talk to you all day.”

Sitting on the chair opposite his father’s desk, Oliver crossed his legs. “I have been quite busy at work. The board is sending us on a trip, as you’re aware.”

“Yes, I know. I have to say I am quite pleased to see you getting so involved. Even if it’s a bit sudden.” Finally turning around, Robert sat on his chair.

Oliver sighed. “What did you want to tell me, dad? We have guests downstairs.”

“I’ll get right to it, then. Son, you should know that this company’s well-being is always my priority. That’s why I promoted Isabel. It wasn’t against you. I’m sure you agree that you are far from being ready for these kind of responsibilities.”

Oliver snorted, rolling his eyes. “And there really was no other candidate up for the task apart from the woman you cheat on mom with?”

“I am not going to discuss my marriage with you. What happens between your mother and I is not your business.” Robert’s voice grew colder as he added: “And I do not want to hear any kind of rumor about that at QC.”

“The rumors began long before you promoted her, you just weren’t there to hear them.” Oliver stood up, deciding he had had enough. “Did you have anything else to add?”

Sighing, Robert raised from his chair as well. “No. Try to be decent with Isabel, even if it’s just for appearance’s sake.”

“I’m sure she can defend herself quite fine. But don’t worry, if there is one thing you managed to teach me, it is how to keep up the appearances.”

With that, Oliver left the room, leaving his father behind.



Entering the ballroom for the second time, he scanned the room, trying to track down Tommy. There wasn’t a situation on earth that Tommy couldn’t make better and his company would probably cheer him up. That and, grabbing a glass from a waiter, great champagne were sure to make the night go faster.

From the corner of his eyes, he saw Laurel talking with her sister. Clearly not in the mood for an interrogation, he swiftly went the other way. He had made it to the bar, having already emptied his drink, where he met up with Eileen and Rosalia, who apparently never left each other.

Both women welcomed him with smiles, squaring their shoulders, obviously trying to show off their cleavage. Oliver was just wondering if he could kidnap Rosalia to “show her around” or if he could push his luck and try to get a two-for-one package when his best friend’s voice interrupted his thoughts.

“Thank God, Ollie you’re here. Ladies, you don’t mind if I borrow him for a while? It’s important.” The relief in Tommy’s voice had him raise his eyebrows.

As he excused himself, Tommy led him to a quieter corner.

“What is it? I was just going to test the waters and see if they did everything together.”

Tommy looked at him, pressing his hands together as if he was about to start praying. “Man, have you seen your assistant’s ass? She’s always wearing those boring slacks and long blouses, so it’s hard to say but… Jesus Fucking Christ, Ollie, It’s a thing of beauty.”

“Felicity has arrived?” Looking for her across the room, he barely heard Tommy’s rambling when he spotted her, talking with Walter. He did a double take, not sure it was really her. She was wearing a golden bronze dress, that clung to her body like a second skin. She looked absolutely stunning. It was the first time he saw her with her hair down, the soft curls framing her face. She wasn’t wearing her usual glasses – another first.

As if he was far away, and not right by his side, Oliver heard Tommy’s voice slowly reaching through him.

“It’s like the Mona Lisa of posteriors. The Sistine Chapel of backsides. The Taj Mahal of bottoms…”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” He reluctantly forced his eyes to look at Tommy.

“Her ass, Ollie! Her ass! It’s the Versailles of buttocks, the…”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it.” Oliver cut him off, once he saw that the object of their attention was walking their way. Her smile was a bit shaky, and it was obvious to him that she was not that comfortable in these surroundings. Lowering his head, he whispered a few words of warning to his best friend. “Don’t say anything inappropriate, will you? She is nervous enough as it is.”

Tommy glanced at him, apparently intrigued by his comment for some reason, but Felicity’s arrival kept him from asking about it.

“Miss Felicity, you look even more beautiful than the last time I saw you!”

Felicity narrowed her eyes. “Mister Merlyn, you saw me three minutes ago.”

“Every minute away from you is like eternity.” Flashing his most seductive smile, Tommy was about to hand her a glass of champagne when he visibly hesitated. “You’re not really underage, are you?”

“I’m afraid yes, I am. Just a few more weeks though. I’m turning 21 at the end of this month.” Smiling, she took the glass of champagne from his hands. “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

Oliver stood there, watching their exchange. He had heard Tommy getting flirty with his assistant and had seen no harm. Tommy Merlyn would flirt with a green plant and probably make it blush. It was even fun to see how Felicity kept a stoic face at all of his attempts.

“I was actually looking for Sara. Have you seen her?” Acknowledging her boss for the first time, she looked at him hesitantly.

“Yep, last time I saw her she was on the other side of the room, near the piano,” Oliver pointed the general direction with his chin.

She wasted no time, leaving both men behind as she quickly waltzed her way through the crowd.

Tommy let out an enamoured sigh, a small whimper escaping him. “It’s so pretty."

Rolling his eyes, Oliver put down his glass and grabbed a crab cake. “Argh, stop it.”

“Stop what?”

“Talking about my assistant like that. It’s making me… uncomfortable.”

“… excuse me?” Tommy’s eyebrows raised so high that they almost disappeared in his hairline. “Mister "I’ve had sex with every single one of my assistants" before is uncomfortable?”

“It’s different. First of all, she’s not of age,” Oliver shook his head.

“She can’t drink, but she’s of age for everything else.”

“And I don’t… I just… Don’t play with her.”

“Ollie… is there another reason why you’re so protective? 'Cause last time I checked, you didn’t seem interested.”

“I’m not. It’s not like that. But I need her. As my assistant. I don’t want to have to find another one because my best friend broke her heart,” Oliver explained. “And she’s a good girl.”

“Hey, you know me. I charm, I fool around but I don’t break hearts. Girls always know what they get when it comes to me. And you actually have quite a nerve to scold me about my attitude with women.” The smile on his face was still there, but Tommy’s eyes had gone much colder. Oliver felt slightly guilty over his behavior. Tommy was right, he wasn’t being fair.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. Just blame it on the four glasses of champagne I’ve had, OK?”

Tommy laughed, his playfulness already back. “You’re really losing your way if that’s all it takes you. But OK, let’s forget about it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a phone number to get. And this time, I’m bringing food. Women love it when we bring food.”

Oliver watched him steal a plate from a waiter, lightly shaking his head with amusement. At least, he had been right about something: Tommy indeed had taken his mind off his father’s encounter. Deciding it was probably best to spend some time with his girlfriend, he followed him at a more leisurely pace. 

He soon joined their little group, gathered near the piano.

“Ollie! Your assistant is here. I have to say I didn’t recognize her,” Laurel welcomed him with a smile.

“It’s the glasses. People are not used to see me without them,” Felicity chirped, fiddling with the glass she was still holding in her hands.

“Sure. The glasses,” Sara snorted. “And not at all this dress. You need to introduce me to your mother, I have to go shopping with her.”

“Well, if you ever go to Vegas, I’m sure she’ll love that.”

“That’s a great idea! We should all go to Vegas one of these days!” Tommy clapped his hands. “I’ll plan it all, I know you guys are gonna be busy with your California Tour. We’ll take the jet. I’ll set a date and let you know. Felicity, I’m afraid I’ll need your phone number so I can… inform you about flight schedules and all that.” He looked at her innocently, rubbing his palms. Oliver bit back a smile at the less than subtle attempt. Looks like I'm not the only one losing my way...

“I think I’d rather go by foot all the way to Nevada,” Felicity smiled sweetly, her eyes sparkling with mischief. “I’m gonna head to the bar, if you’ll excuse me.”

The other two girls followed her, patting Tommy’s back on their way.

“Ouch.” Tommy locked his jaw, grimacing, yet nodding with appreciation at her witty banter. Sighing, he watched her walk away, shaking his head. “Man, I’m so turned on right now.”

Oliver laughed. “You’re a masochist, you know that?”

“Well aware.”

Oliver didn’t reply, finding himself having a hard time forming words once he actually caught a good look at what his best friend had been raving about. Wow. Sistine Chapel indeed.

 

 

 

~~~~

Felicity's dress can be found here http://fr.tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2nqee5e&s=8#.VfQ5pxHtmko -back- and here http://fr.tinypic.com/view.php?pic=zim5j5&s=8#.VfRgRRHtmko -front-(I have been trying to post the pics but it's not working so... I had to find another way :p)

 

Chapter Text

The only good thing about this business trip was that Felicity got to sleep later than usual. They were only expected at the airport around noon and having already packed, she could afford to sleep until 10AM. Which was more than necessary, since the party at the Queen’s Mansion had lasted well past midnight. She, surprisingly, had a good time spending most of the night with Sara, who introduced her to some colleagues. It was actually nice to see all those people in other surroundings and the finger food had been delicious. Sara and she had even sneaked up to the kitchen and stole an entire plate of crab cakes once most of the guests had started to leave.

It was 11:15 when Dig knocked on her door. They were going to pick up Oliver and then head straight to the airport.

“Sure you’ve got everything?” He asked while helping her with her suitcase.

“Yep. I’m so glad you’re coming with us. And not just because you can lift heavy things.”

Laughing, he put her suitcase in the car’s trunk. “Let me guess. It’s because I also bring coffee?”

“You got me there,” she smiled, taking a sip of the latte he had, indeed, bought for her.

Picking up Oliver didn’t take them more than a couple minutes, Oliver being ready to go once they had arrived. The small airport where QC’s jet was on stand-by was merely a few miles away from the mansion, and the three of them made it with 15 minutes to spare.

As they were waiting in the small departure room, Dig and Oliver quietly chatting, Felicity realized that there wouldn’t be a lot of people she knew. Isabel was obviously there, along with Mark. There was also Denis Lewis who had brought along his assistant. Ugh. Great. Mandy and Oliver on a small private jet. With two bathrooms. Wonder what could possibly go wrong. Two employees from the security department, judging by their outfit, had also tagged along. As well as a few other executives and their secretaries. All in all, it was a party of roughly 15 people.

“Where are we even going?” It suddenly dawned on her that she had been so busy wrapping things up in the office, she actually had no idea what the schedule was. Public Relations had been in charge of all the arrangements and she hadn’t even bothered to check the flight schedule they had sent her the day before.

“We’re starting with Seattle. One of our investors has their offices there. There’s a wind farm in Washington that we would like to expand; the plan is to convince them to share the cost,” Oliver explained, clearly amused. “I take it you didn’t look at the schedule they gave us?”

She didn’t have time to reply as one of their flight attendants announced it was time to board.

Once they were all seated - which barely took 5 minutes God bless private jets – she started drumming impatiently on her seat’s armchair. She had never been too fond of flying, and the wait before take-off was always nerve-wracking for her. Dig put a reassuring hand on her arm, trying to calm her down.

“Afraid of planes?” He asked, keeping his voice low.

“No. I’m OK with planes. It’s heights that I’m not OK with.”

Chuckling, he relaxed back in his own seat. “You should get a drink, it might help with the nerves.”

“Yeah, 'cause me being tipsy with… this crowd, sounds like a good idea,” she whispered. “Besides it’s mostly the take-off, once we’re above the clouds, I can pretend I’m just on a train, traveling on some nice fluffy whipped cream.”

“It won’t be long at all,” Dig reassured her, squeezing her hand.

And sure enough, they were up in the air barely a couple minutes later. Sighing, Felicity, pulled out her Ipod from her purse. Because Isabel decided the Executives should sit up front while the low level employees sat in back, Felicity didn't feel guilty about not doing anything productive on the flight. Not to mention, if Oliver needed her, he knew where to find her. “With the peasants in the back” she thought.

The flight lasted a bit more than two hours and it was late afternoon when they all settled in their respective rooms at the Four Seasons. A small dinner was planned in order to meet Lucy Keiffer, the investor Oliver had told her about, in casual surroundings. Well, casual as in just a small dozen of people eating in a private room of the Four Seasons restaurant, that is.

Putting the three hours she had to good use, she researched who Lucy Keiffer was. It turned out Mrs Keiffer was CEO of a company specialized in wind turbines. She had invested into a wind farm implanted in the ocean itself. Her company also provided consultants and financial support with new cleaner energy sources. It already had shares in one of the wind farms QC had created down the California coast.

Once Felicity had changed her outfit into a more appropriate little black dress (thank you, Sara), tying her straightened hair in a high ponytail, she made her way to the small dining room that was being rented for the night. The upside of this small casual dinner was that there weren’t that many people and the atmosphere was more relaxed. The downside was that, apart from Oliver, she had no one to talk to. She wasn’t the kind who shined in society. She was smart, but awkward and definitely not in her element. Oliver, on the other hand, seemed like he had done it his entire life. Which wasn’t surprising seeing he grew up with the elite of Starling City.  Well, at least the food looks good.

The waiters were just bringing the entrees when the conversation finally breached topics she was actually interested in, instead of the usual chit-chat about relatives and common friends.

“We are currently working on the next generation of clean energy sources. My chief of project couldn’t join us tonight, unfortunately. He will be there tomorrow for the visit and he’ll explain this so much better than I ever could.” Laughing slightly, Mrs Keiffer took a sip of red wine.

“I’m afraid I’m as clueless as you when it comes to all those scientific things. I’m more a business woman than a scientist.” Raising her glass as if to toast, Isabel smiled, exuding confidence.

“We’re really looking forward to the visit tomorrow. As Walter told you, we are trying to increase the portion of green energy we currently use, hopefully reaching 100% in a couple of years. We need technology with more energy capture and your company is very much ahead of all others in that area.” Oliver took a bite of steak, obviously not willing to let Isabel play the women-stick-together card.

“Yes, we are. We are currently working on a new prototype that should be tested in a month. My team calls it the Sweep Twist… something,” Mrs Keiffer waved her hand, looking sheepish.

“The Sweep Twist Adaptative Rotor,” a young man with thick brown hair who was sitting on her right finished the sentence.

“I have no idea what that means,” Isabel laughed.

“It’s a very fancy word that just means the blades are slightly curved, so they can adapt to any kind of wind. It is supposed to help the wind turbine reach full capacity in any kind of weather,” Felicity explained, happy to be able to take part in the conversation.

The man on her right looked at her, obviously surprised. “Yes… exactly.”

She grinned, trying to remember the guy’s name. “What did you say your name was again?”

“Barry. Allen.”

 

The night had turned out to be much more entertaining than what Felicity had feared. Barry had been invited after his boss had to drop out because of a family issue. He worked in the Sciences and Technology Department, being specifically assigned on their new project. He had been hired right after he graduated from CalTech and was just as much into sciences and technology as she was.

“No offence, but how did you end up working as an assistant?” he asked, his eyes curious. They were leaving the restaurant, both staying behind in the Hotel Lobby.

“Oh… stupid thing really. In short? I missed my interview. Oliver needed an assistant, I liked QC… so I took the job. Once there’s another job opening in the IT department, I’ll ask to be moved there, though.” As the other ones were retreating to the elevators, she shifted her weight from one leg to another.

“Well, it’s late. I will see you tomorrow though?” He asked hopefully, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Yep.”

“It will make a nice change to have someone who understands what I’m talking about for once.” They both laughed as he awkwardly walked away, hesitating. He seemed to finally make up his mind and slightly waved at her before stepping outside.

“Making friends, I see?” A deep voice had her startled.

“Dig!” she said, turning back, a hand on her chest. “you scared me to death!”

Laughing, he approached her, shaking his head. “Someone is distracted…”

“Noooo. It’s been a long few days, I’m a bit tired. That’s all. Do you have to stay? Where is Oliver?” Frowning, she tried to look past his broad shoulders, not remembering if she had seen her boss taking the elevator.

“He is in the lounge, having a drink with Isabel and Mrs Keiffer. He said we were to meet him tomorrow at 9:00.” Dig paused, letting a small grin appear on his face. “He specifically asked me to remind you the time, in case you still hadn’t read the schedule.”

Felicity glared at him.

“Hey! His words, not mine!” Dig chuckled, raising his hands in defense.

 



The whole group spent the day visiting SWK Ent. – Mrs Keiffer’s company. The morning was dedicated to the wind farms near Seattle, where they got the chance to talk with the workers. After a small lunch in a restaurant by the coast, they all headed to the Headquarter in Downtown Seattle. A thorough visit of their Sciences and Technology Department, focusing on their new wind turbine prototype followed, to Felicity’s great delight. Barry was there, providing technical assistance to the Chief Project Engineer who obviously knew more about business than technology.

A small informal dinner was provided by their host after this long day of visiting. Felicity’s feet were killing her and all she could think about was the long bubble bath that was waiting for her. Fortunately, dinner proved much more entertaining for her that night, having been seated right next to Barry. Soon, the two of them got lost in technical terms that no one around the table seemed to understand - or even care about.

“Well, Oliver, I’m really surprised at your assistant. I didn’t know Secretarial Arts offered a class in Technology, I have to say,” Mrs Keiffer laughed lightly.

“I didn’t major in the secretarial arts,” Felicity replied with a small smile.

“Oh? Well, I guess there are more ways to a job than a degree!”

“Exactly! It’s well known in the company that her shorthand skills are not the reason Mr Queen hired her,” Mandy suavely said. By the gleeful look in her eyes, it was obvious she knew fully well how that could be interpreted.

Felicity was too shocked to actually reply. I can’t believe she would… especially knowing she is the one who keeps throwing herself at him! Opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of water, she was saved more embarrassment when Oliver suddenly appeared on her left.

“Mandy is right, I’m afraid. Felicity’s skills as a secretary aren’t exactly top notch. She does compensate that by being the most hard-working and loyal assistant I’ve ever had the chance to work with. Not to mention she is so much smarter than I.” Chuckling, he pointed his glass at her. “Although, you have to admit, you couldn’t write short-hand even if your life depended on it.”

Everyone let out a laugh at his words. If Oliver Queen had one talent, it was surely the ability to speak in public and take his audience wherever he wanted to. She smiled at him, silently thanking him for his support.

He lightly shook his head and mouthed. “We’re a team."

“Hum,” Barry leaned, murmuring. “It didn’t even cross my mind. Are you and…”

“No!” Felicity quickly denied. “He’s my boss, that’s all. Mandy is a bitch with me because she wanted the job.”

“At least he defends you. My boss wouldn’t care what happens between low-class employees,” he snorted.

“Well, don’t tell anyone but…” she whispered. “He owes me one. I saved his ass and I feel like he’s probably relieved he got the chance to pay back.” Chuckling, she reached for her glass of wine. “Not to mention, it’s completely his fault if that’s how people see his assistants.”

“I’ve heard Isabel mention this last time she was here actually.” Barry took a sip of water as he continued “Oliver having had to fire his last assistant because she started stalking him or something.”

“That wouldn’t surprise me,” Felicity snickered. She was just about to take a mouthful of risotto when she stopped mid-movement, fork still between the plate and her lips. “Wait… last time?”

“Yeah, last month.”

“You mean Isabel – this Isabel,” she added, discretely nodding towards the brunette. “Was here a few weeks ago? Why?” Felicity frowned. The Venizzi report hadn’t been released at that time. Even if it had, the main goal of this trip was to reassure their partners and backers because of the explosion.

“I don’t know. I stumbled on them in a café. Don’t think they even noticed me. I didn’t hear a lot, just that he wasn’t competent and couldn’t be trusted with big responsibilities.” Barry froze, apparently noticing that Felicity had paled. “To be fair, it doesn’t really seem like a lie. At least at that time it wasn’t. I think Isabel just wanted to reassure Lucy that by buying parts in QC, she could trust her as a direct partner.”

The worry in Barry's voice was enough to shake Felicity out of her stupor. “You know what, you’re right. I’m still new to this whole business thing.” Drawing a shaky breath, she took a mouthful of risotto. “This is delicious, by the way.”

She spent the rest of the night making small talk with Barry, who didn’t seem to notice the difference in her behavior. Her mind was already full at work. I’m probably being paranoid. Or my brain has been so underused lately, it’s just desperate for theories and schemes. Of course it has to wake up when dessert is served. Can’t a girl enjoy her creme brûlée in peace??

It was their second and last night in Seattle. They were leaving in the morning, heading to Portland. As dinner was over, she found herself once again lingering in the lobby with Barry.

“Well… it was nice meeting you. If you ever come back to Seattle, give me a call? That is, if you want to!” Shoving his hands in his pockets, he shifted his weight from one leg to another. “I mean… I’m sure our IT Department would be interested in someone like you. If you ever get tired of short-hand, I mean.”

Felicity laughed. “Well, I like Starling. You should come by one day. The weather is nice!”

Barry smiled, holding out his hand. “It’s been a pleasure to meet you, Felicity.”

Shaking his hand, she smiled softly. “Likewise. Bye, Barry.” Leaving him behind, she made her way to her room, her mind set on discovering exactly why Isabel had been in Seattle last month.

It was already 11 o'clock when she reached a conclusion: Whatever Isabel had been doing in Seattle, she had made sure to make it as discreet as possible. She hadn’t used any of the company’s usual transportation. No jet, no helicopter. She hadn’t even requested a private chauffeur or used her professional credit card to book a plane ticket.

Felicity was pacing her bedroom, chewing on her nail. She was facing a dilemma as she had reached her limits in researching information legally. She could pry into Isabel’s private accounts, but that might be crossing a line. On the other hand, her guts were telling her there was something fishy and her guts were never wrong.

 


***


As Oliver’s lips travelled down her stomach, Sandra – or was it Rita? - let out a small moan, arching her back. He hadn’t planned on having sex that night, but as he was relaxing at the hotel’s small bar, Sandra – or Rita, he really should have paid attention to what she was saying – had approached him, wearing one of the most sinful dresses Oliver had ever seen, all made of black fabric and lace barely covering her body, yet still classy enough for a hotel like the Four Seasons. Two drinks later, they were stumbling in the elevator, where he had teared off her thong and made her come with his fingers. They were currently in the middle of round 2, Oliver being busy eating her out as a reward for a blowjob that had left his knees shaking. A blowjob that had happened in the middle of the hotel hall near his bedroom.

Lightly biting her navel, he soothed the slight ache with his tongue, fingers barely brushing her nether lips.

“Please, please, …please, Oliver,” the brunette panted, gripping his hair, pushing his head down.

He smirked, knowing fully well he would make her moan his name again and again during the night. There was just something in making a woman beg, in making it so good for her she would forget all modesty and become wanton and needy for him.

As he was spreading her thighs, bending her right leg and pushing it up so it rested on her chest, his phone started to ring.

He groaned a “don’t pay attention” while nibbling on her inner thigh, getting closer and closer to where she was waiting for him while fishing in his pants pocket to decline the call. He quickly put his phone on silence mode then tossed it aside on the nightstand.

He blew on her sex, watching her whimper in frustration. As he lightly licked his way from her opening to her clit, he brought a finger to nudge at her entrance. Circling it with slow, assured movements, he opened his mouth around the little bundle of nerves, making her gasp. 

“Oh, Oh, Oh God yes, yes, yes, right there!” The grip she had on his hair was getting slightly painful, a part of him tempted to make her let go. His tongue started to flick repeatedly around her clit while he pushed another finger inside her. He could tell she was already close, which didn't surprise him in the slightest. He knew how to make women come. It was easy, and the reward was a very compliant girl afterwards, which made it easy for him to come in return. Win-win, really.

“You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your liiiiiife

See that girl, watch that scene, diggin’ the dancing queeeen”

Oliver froze, just as Sandra-Rita was about to come. Her hands stilled completely in his hair as she raised her head to look at him in disbelief.

“What… what’s that?” She breathed, searching for the source of the music, her eyes landing on the nightstand where Oliver had thrown his phone.

“Your ringtone is Abba?” She asked, incredulous, raising her eyebrows. “Dancing Queen?” 

Oliver rose to his feet, quickly grabbing his phone, cursing under his breath. “That’s not… I didn’t pick it, OK?”

There was only one person who would do something like that…

“Damn it, Felicity, what?!” He barked as he accepted the call.

“I need to see you. Like right now,” his assistant quickly explained, sounding out of breath.

“And it can’t wait until tomorrow morning?!”

“No, it can’t. I’m on my way to your room, I’ll be there in 5 minutes.” She hung up on those words, not leaving him any choice.

He stared at the phone in his hand as if it had personally failed him.

Tensing his jaw, he turned to the woman who was still sitting on his bed, hugging her knees. “I’m sorry but I have… an emergency it appears.”

“Oh. Oooh. You want me to leave?” She huffed out a dry laugh, then quickly sobered up when he didn't deny. “Really?”

“Believe me, I really don't but it's not up to me, apparently.” He picked up her dress, helping her with the zipper.

Fortunately, she didn’t have much to pick. A purse and a light coat. She was gone in two minutes, which left just enough time for Oliver to rearrange the bed the best he could and pour himself a glass of ice cold water from the mini bar, that he gulped right away.

He had just put the glass on the nightstand when there was a small knock on the door. Still fuming, he brutally opened the door, his mouth forming a thin line on his face.

“This better be a life and death situation, Felicity.”

Moving past him, she handed him her tablet. “You be the judge, Oliver.”

Looking around, she noticed the room was empty and the bed was ruffled. “Good, I see Sandra has left.”

“Yeah, I just… “ he stopped reading what was on her tablet as he realized the implication of her words. “Wait. How do you know her name? I didn’t even remember it!” 

She snorted and rolled her eyes. “She works for Mrs Keiffer. I suppose she didn’t mention that?” Taking off her coat, she sat on the bed. “She also seems friendly with our new VP."

“What do you mean?” He cut her off, intrigued and... yeah, slightly nervous. Whatever it was that had her barging into his room at this time of the night, he was beginning to suspect that it was, indeed, a serious situation.

“It’s not the first time Isabel has met Lucy Keiffer. The two of them met at least twice in the past 3 months. And Isabel made sure no one in QC knew about it.”

Chapter Text

“Wait… what?” Oliver stared at her, too shocked to formulate any coherent thought. 

Felicity sighed. “I guess I should explain from the beginning?”

“That… that would be my preference.” Oliver quickly went to the mini-bar and opened a small bottle of whisky, gulping the whole thing, hoping it would help him clear his mind. “Do you want anything?”

“Nope, I’m all set,” Felicity answered as she raised the cup of coffee she had bought on her way to his room.

She proceeded to explain what Barry told her at dinner, trying to be as clear as possible.

Oliver let her talk, only speaking when she was done. “Ok, so Isabel and Mrs Keiffer have met before. I don’t really see what the big deal is though, it’s not uncommon for our executives to meet investors and backers on their own.”

“I know that, Oliver. What is suspicious though is that there is no trace of that trip in any of QC’s bank accounts or in her personnel files. Nothing. She didn’t want anyone to know she was going to Seattle. Not to mention she visited her twice before the Venizzi report was even made, which means before we even knew we were going to need SWK. And way before this whole trip was planned, since it was, as you know, a direct result of the explosion.”

Oliver passed a tired hand across his face. “OK. How can you be so sure it was Isabel then? Maybe this Berry guy made a mistake. Since there is no trace of Isabel going here, the logic would say she didn’t in the first place.”

“ I said there was no official trace she was here. I… Hum,” she hesitated, biting her lower lip. “I looked in her personal email accounts.”

“… can you say that again?” Oliver blinked.

“I had to make sure! I really couldn’t do it any other way, Oliver!” Felicity stood up and started pacing.

“You hacked into her accounts? Felicity this is serious, you could go to jail!” Standing up as well, he stopped her and put his hands on her shoulders. “What were you thinking?!”

“First of all, hacking is such an ugly word. I just… guessed her passwords. It’s pure luck, really. And second of all, how can you think I’d be careless enough to get caught? Have you met me?” Sighing, she removed his hands and resumed her pacing. “Do you want to know the rest of the story or do you want to call the cops on me?”

Standing there with his arms hanging limply, Oliver just nodded. “Keep going”

“So I didn’t find any air ticket. What I found is that someone named Stacy Karev rented a car last month, and from the gas stations receipts I found on her credit card, the destination clearly was the state of Washington. I also need to add that this was just when Isabel took a sick leave. Obviously, I kept digging and it was the second time Stacy Karev rented a car for a trip to Seattle, just when Isabel Rochev was apparently ill or on vacation.”

“… OK it’s fishy, I get it. How are you sure that Stacy isn’t a friend of hers, though?”

“Because I also… I had access to camera footage of the hotel she was staying in. And either she’s her long lost twin, or it is indeed our new VP.”

“… had access? What, you guessed the password right again?” Raising an eyebrow, Oliver crossed his arms on his chest.

“Don’t be silly. It wasn’t password protected, it was encrypted. I did have to H-a-c-k my way through, but I did it for good reasons,” Felicity started twiddling her hands. “I don’t access private things, you know, just… hum…”

“I get it. You just got a bit scary though. Remind me to never try to hide something from you,” Oliver laughed lightly. “Go on.”

“That’s how I saw some footage with Sandra. They met at the hotel lounge. Her face seemed oddly familiar to me, but it took me a few minutes to remember I had seen her tonight. That dress is hard to forget, I mean it barely covers anything. Not that you would mind, probably makes things easier.”

“Still doesn’t explain how you knew she was here,” Oliver quickly asked, not willing to dwell on what Sandra had been wearing, remembering way too well that it had, indeed, made things very easy for him.

“Oliver…” Felicity sighed, looking sadly at him. “I’m sorry but...”

“What?” He asked, genuinely confused.

“Knowing you, knowing that you were still at the bar where I saw her heading to… there was a good chance you’d end up with her. If my doubts were correct, and if indeed she was accomplice to whatever Isabel is up to… you wouldn’t have needed much persuasion, now would you?” She explained softly, her eyes never leaving his.

Oliver opened his mouth to argue back, but found himself lost for words. There was indeed a very high probability that he actually walked into a trap.

“But she didn’t ask anything, she didn’t snoop, so what would be the point? Maybe it’s a coincidence!” He finally said, in a defeated voice. His shoulders fell while he grasped the reality of what his mother had warned him about all this time. 

“Oliver, don’t get me wrong. Come on, look at you. I don’t think there’s a single girl on this planet who…” Felicity stopped herself mid-sentence, slightly blushing. “So not the point. What I mean is I do not know what she was up to. But Oliver this cannot be a coincidence! Sandra works for Lucy Keiffer. Lucy and Isabel had previous secret meetings way before this whole trip was planned. Not to mention that time when Isabel threw you to the vultures with the press conference.” She took a deep breath and looked at him. “Oliver, talk to me.”

“Ever since that press conference, I’ve been wondering why she had done that. I never liked Isabel, but I can't deny that she is very professional and highly qualified. It didn’t make sense for her to take such risks in a moment where all eyes were on the company. I’ve had this… nagging feeling that there might be something more at play.” He sat down on the bed, putting his elbows on his knees, looking at her, knowing he probably looked like a lost boy.

“Something you couldn’t see, but felt lurking in the shadows?”

“Yeah… I don’t know what’s going on. I know I can’t trust her, though. But what would be the point? Do you think she would be plotting against the company? To try to sabotage it?” He frowned, having a hard time believing it himself.

“I… I honestly have no idea. Maybe? Maybe she’s frustrated that she will never get over the position of a VP? Maybe she has another agenda? I could look into this, but it would take much more time, and clearly a better setting than this poor excuse of a wifi,” Felicity let out a small laugh, as if she was trying to lighten up the mood a bit.

“There’s nothing we can do for now, though, is there?” Oliver asked her, rubbing his eyes.

“No. Just… steer clear of Isabel while we get a chance to find out what she’s up to.” She hesitated, biting her thumb. “Are you gonna tell your father?”

Oliver’s head snapped at her. “No! We don’t really know what her plan is, or if it really is something that might cause damage to the company. Not to mention, I already had a small… fight with him about her, he wouldn’t take my word. And if he tells her, then she will know that we're suspicious.”

“That’s what I thought as well. We should probably sleep it off, we’ll have a clearer head tomorrow.” Felicity threw her now empty cup of coffee in the garbage bin and picked up her coat, walking to the door.

Oliver followed her. “Hum… did you tell that Berry guy anything about it?”

“It’s Barry,” she scolded him. “And no, of course not. He seems trustworthy but I wouldn’t take that kind of risk.”

“Good. That’s good,” he nodded, relieved. Shifting on his feet, he avoided her gaze and mumbled. “Thank you. For looking out for… the company... and me.”

Felicity smiled, her hand patting his arm. “It’s my job, Oliver. We’re a team, remember?” Opening the door, she stopped herself and turned back, facing him. “Although, for the love of God… if I call you in the middle of the night, it’s probably an emergency. So pick up the damn phone, or I swear next time I’ll choose something even more embarrassing than a disco band.”

He huffed out a laugh, shaking his head. “I’ll try to remember that. Although I don’t see what could be worse than Abba.”

She winked at him. “Don’t challenge me.”

Once Oliver had closed the door, he rested against it for a minute, his mind trying to grasp everything he had learned in the past 15 minutes. What he had told her had been true. He had had a weird feeling in his stomach for a couple of weeks. A part of him was actually weirdly relieved that he hadn’t been wrong even if he… if they still had no clue what was really going on. All he knew was that there were only a couple of people he could trust with that and that he would probably need their help to find out whatever Isabel’s endgame was.

Quickly undressing and way too tired for a shower, he slipped underneath the sheets. He needed a plan but also to be extremely careful with his next move, as he had no doubt Isabel would be observing him closely. Picking up his phone, he quickly texted Dig and Felicity, then turned off the bedside lamp, fully intending to get at least a couple of hours of sleep.



***

The next morning, the three of them were seated in a booth of a little diner not too close to their hotel. Oliver had let them known last night that they would be having breakfast together and had preferred to do so in a place where there was little chance to be interrupted by other QC employees.

He let Felicity explain what she had discovered to Dig, who didn’t seem that surprised by the reveal.

“Ever since that press conference, I’ve had a bad feeling, you know that, Oliver." Shaking his head, Dig sipped his coffee and put the cup down on the table. “I’ll snoop around. You have no idea how much members of the security know and talk about.”

“Dig,…” Oliver tried to speak but Diggle interrupted him right away.

“I know, Oliver. I’ll be discreet. The both of you should watch your backs though. Be careful what you say, when you say it, who you talk to. What’s the plan?”

“So far, there is no plan. We need to find out more. Why did she meet up with Lucy? How did she know we would need SWK to begin with?”

“I’ll look through both of their personal records, see if I can find any connection,” Felicity chirped. “It would be so much easier if we weren’t stuck almost constantly with her and her minions, though.”

“We’ll make sure not to spend any unnecessary time with them. I’m not really looking forward to being around her either.” Oliver took a deep breath, adding: “I sent an email to Walter, asking for more info about the Venizzi report. When it was finished, who took part in it,… some general info that might give us something to start with.”

“Do you trust Walter? He could help us?” Felicity asked, chewing on a slice of toast. Truth be told, Walter really seemed like a genuine person, very loyal to QC. But she didn't know him as well as Oliver did.

“I trust him. He’s always been supportive of me and…” Oliver trailed off, smiling softly. “He kept reassuring me that I would find my own way someday but in the meanwhile he’d be there to help me. However with this… no. That would put him in an impossible position.”

“You’re probably right. We need to find out more before involving anyone else in it.”

Diggle glanced at his watch. “We should get going. We still need to clear our rooms and we’re supposed to be in the lobby in less than an hour.”

The walk back to the hotel was silent, each one of them being deep in thought. It wasn’t until they were in the elevators that they were forced out of their introspection by Mark, who joined them after having his own breakfast in the hotel restaurant.

“Oh, there you are! We were worried, no one had seen you all morning. Aren’t you hungry?” He asked, pressing the button to his floor.

“We ate in a diner. Felt like taking a walk in the city. It’s Felicity’s first time here, we showed her around a bit,” Oliver explained, plastering a social smile on his face.

“Well… that’s rather nice of you. Especially since the night must have been short for you,” Mark snorted.

“… Hum? Excuse me?” Felicity asked, caught off guard.

“Well, Mandy and I had a couple of drinks in that club and when we came back we saw you walking in Oliver’s bedroom. It was way past midnight. So I assume your night was short.”

“That is… that’s…” Felicity tried to explain but was cut off by Dig’s reassuring voice.

“I had an allergy reaction to the oysters we had at dinner. Felicity was kind enough to ask Oliver for Benadryl. He always has some with him.” Keeping his eyes on the floor numbers above their heads, he continued “but it’s good to know her colleagues are so concerned about her.” The elevator stopped and Dig turned to face the young man. “I believe this is your floor, Mark.”

Looking at the three of them, Mark stepped out of the elevator, clearing his throat under Dig’s cold stare. “Yeah… I guess I’ll see you later.”

As soon as the doors closed again, Felicity giggled. “I almost expected you to flex your muscles to prove your point.”

“He’s lucky his floor wasn’t higher or I would have” Dig smiled at her, just when the small ping announced that they, too, had reached their destination.

Oliver’s phone rang at that moment and he fished it from his inside pocket. “I’ll see you later.”

Pressing a button he answered cheerfully “Laurel. What a great surprise. How was the family dinner?”

Felicity parted ways as well, hurrying to her room. She still had to pack everything and was hoping to catch a few minutes to read her emails.


The flight to Portland was unsurprisingly extremely short, which Felicity was very thankful for, as the atmosphere inside the jet couldn’t be more awkward. The top two executives were ignoring each other and the other employees were divided in small groups, barely acknowledging the others. She wasn’t even comfortable talking with Dig, in fear of being eavesdropped. Diggle seemed to share her opinion and stayed silence most of the flight, except for a few reassuring words during take-off.

She wasn’t looking forward to their stop in Portland as they were mainly there to reassure one of their oldest investors about QC’s solidity on the market. The only good thing about it was that she had to stay for a drink once their plane landed, but her presence wasn’t required for the cocktail night that was planned.

As she was knocking on Oliver’s door, 30 minutes before he was supposed to leave for the reception, she let out a small laugh thinking about how different it was working as an assistant compared to her original expectations. She had expected endless meetings, summaries and other random tasks, not digging into the past of one of the top leaders of the company.

Diggle opened the door, letting her inside with a gentle smile.

“… why are you wearing a suit?” Felicity asked, surprised. Of course, she was used to seeing him dressed up, but she also knew that once the day was over, he was quick to put on simpler clothes.

“The cocktail reception. I’m supposed to attend as well. Isabel thinks we need to show our strength. Apparently that also means my biceps.”

Felicity snickered. “I’ve never been more thankful to be so bad in sports.”

“Felicity, great, you’re here,” Oliver greeted her as he walked out of the ensuite bathroom.

“Yep, I got everything you asked for,” she smiled, looking through the papers she had brought. “You should make small talk with Mr Jones, our main backer, and Mrs Jones, his wife. She seems to enjoy young men’s company, so just be your usual charming self. Here, that’s her picture.”

She raised her head, handing him the document and almost let the sheet of paper drop from her hand. I cannot believe Oliver Queen wears suspenders. I thought only grandfathers wore those. Mine did. But he never looked like this with them.

“My mum drilled me ever since I was old enough to wear a tux, Felicity,” he grinned at her, taking the papers from her hand.

“Oh no, did I…”

“Say that outloud?” He continued, while already looking through the documents. “Mmh mmh. You do that a lot. Don't worry, though. I got used to it a while ago.”

Diggle snorted, which earned him a cold stare from Felicity. “Hey! I have to go show off my muscles all night long, at least let me have that!”

“And now I won’t even feel bad about you. Nope, gonna enjoy my nice evening, digging up things about you-know-who,” she stopped herself, frowning. “I don’t mean Voldemort. Although that could be an appropriate code-name, like they use in the army.”

“Let’s leave the code-naming for another day, shall we? Also, I’m sorry to ruin your fantasy but the code-names we use in the army are not Harry Potter related.”

“But we could be like Harry, Ron and Hermione!” Felicity pouted. “I make a fantastic Hermione!”

“Yeah and I make a fantastic Weasley” Diggle deadpanned.

“… OK maybe you have a point.”

“Alright, you two. Sorry to interrupt this very interesting and adult conversation, but it’s time to go,” Oliver cut them off, handing Felicity the papers she had brought him. “Thank you, Felicity.”

“You’re welcome,” she smiled warmly at him. “I should get going, then. I’ll see you tomorrow for breakfast and I'll let you know what I find out.”

“Good. Have a good night.”

“Night, Felicity.” Dig walked her to the door, whispering. “I’ll eat a couple of crab-cakes for you.”

“Or you could be a real gentleman and sneak some up for me?” she asked hopefully.

“You mean like you did at the Queen Mansion when you and Sara stole an entire plate?”

She gasped. “How did you find out?!”

“Felicity. It’s my job to have eyes on everything. Not to mention you two were giggling like a bunch of school girls.”

As she was walking out, she turned back to glare at him. “Fine. Stuff your face with those crab-cakes, Weasley. But I’d be watching my back if I were you.”

Chapter Text


The night had proven to be successful for Felicity. She hadn’t managed to get a lot of sleep, had probably eaten way too much (God bless room service) but she had found some very interesting facts about Isabel Rochev. Or Stacy Karev, depending on which identity she was using.

It turned out that her suspicions had been right. Isabel had been in touch with several of QC’s most important investors in the past few months. Always under the radar, always the ones who didn’t have a close relationship with Walter Steele or Robert Queen himself. Several of those partners were on the list of people they were supposed to meet on the business trip and Felicity couldn’t wait to see if Isabel would, like she did for Lucy Keiffer, pretend to have never met them before. Which brought other questions, ones that got her far more worried than Miss Rochev’s schemes: why those people? Would they play Isabel’s game and keep up the pretense? If yes, why? What was their interest in that? Or was it some kind of blackmail?

If the night had brought up many new elements, it had also caused her to face a whole lot more questions. Hopefully, Oliver would be able to answer some of them, providing intel on how QC worked from the inside and maybe more information about the ones Felicity had code-named the Deatheaters.

To say she was impatient to meet Dig and Oliver was an understatement. Felicity Smoak hated mysteries and couldn’t wait to solve this one.



As she walked inside Denny’s the next morning, both men were already seated at a table as far away as possible from all the other customers. Oliver Queen at Denny’s, if I ever thought I’d see the day… At least he is trying to be discreet, his reputation probably would never recover if the tabloids found out.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” she smiled as she took a seat, leaving her coat on the back of her chair. “So… how was your night?”

“Mine was quiet. You should ask him, though,” Dig replied, barely hiding his smirk.

Oliver glared at him, then turned his attention towards her. “It was… alright.”

Dig snorted. “Remember the whole ‘try to avoid Isabel’ speech you gave him? Well, let’s just say you apparently didn’t make your point clear enough.”

“What happened?” Felicity frowned, picking up a menu.

“She and I had a small… conversation when we got back to the hotel,” Oliver cleared his throat. “I didn’t say anything about what we found out, don’t worry.”

“What was it about then?”

“She just made some comments on how it was time to really have a woman taking the stand at QC. It pissed me off. My mother has always been a huge support for my father. It’s her family money that gave him the possibility to expand the business to begin with. She only stepped down to raise Thea and I,” he explained, shrugging. Obviously not willing to go into anything more specific, he put down his menu just as their waitress approached.

Once they gave their order, Felicity proceeded to let them in on what she had found out the previous night. She couldn’t help the small proud feeling that grew in her chest at the surprise on their faces once they realized how much she had been able to discover in just one night.

“So Lucy’s not the only one, then?” Oliver asked, between two mouthfuls of scrambled eggs.

“Nope. There are at least 6 of them that I have found out about so far.”

"Any clue as to why they were meeting?"

Felicity looked at Dig, shaking her head. “I really don’t know. I even considered the possibility she could be blackmailing them, but as for the definite reason… I have no idea.”

“Can you dig any further in her past? See if there is any connection?” Oliver chimed in.

“That was my next step. I will try to look into it as soon as possible. The most plausible reason would be that she might be trying to sabotage the company. I will also check her accounts, see if she has acquired any shares or stock options recently. Same with the deatheaters.”

“… pardon me?”

“Oh. I had to find a name for those investors. It was either that or the Nazguls. And you have to admit that sounds a tiny bit too dramatic.”

Diggle rolled his eyes while Oliver just shook his head, his eyes amused.

“Ok, next time you try to come up with proper code-names at 3 in the morning when you’ve been running high on sugar. I swear this hotel makes the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever eaten.” Sitting back on her chair, she looked at Oliver. “Do you have any theory considering what you know about Isabel? What could be her endgame?”

“The only one I can come up with at the moment is the same as yours. Try to crash the company or weaken it, maybe for a hostile takeover bid. Your guess is as good as mine.”

“Well, we don’t need her to get any doubt. Try to avoid her, she might try to use your dislike of her to her advantage.”

“Yeah… about that…” Oliver shifted in his seat, clearly uncomfortable while Dig just smiled knowingly behind his cup of coffee.

“Yes? What is it?”

“I really don’t think I can stomach being with her all this time and not snap. I mean it’s almost 24/7.”

“I know. But there isn’t much we can do about it right?” She shrugged then froze once she got a proper look at the way Oliver was avoiding her eyes. “What are you not telling me, Oliver?”

“Imnotgoingtotravelbyplanewithyouanymore,” he mumbled, staring at his fork.

Dig snorted, patting him on the back. “I have to make a phone call, Carly tried to reach me last night.” Standing up, he picked up his phone from his jacket. “I’ll see you back at the hotel?”

“Yeah, see you later, Dig,” Felicity waved absently, her attention focused on Oliver who was still avoiding her gaze. “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand a word of what you just said.”

Taking a deep breath, Oliver finally explained:“I asked for an employee to drive my car here. I can’t keep going on like this with her, I’ll snap at some point.”

“What?! Oliver, you can’t give up! This is crucial for you and the company. You need to be there, take a stand!”

“I know! I know, OK?” He lowered his voice. “I’m not calling it quits, I just won’t be traveling by plane anymore. I will still rejoin you guys everywhere, but honestly the distances are more than manageable by car and I’ll need the time off from this crowd to clear my head. I’m not giving up, Felicity. I promise you.”

“What about Dig and I? We’re coming with you, right?”

“Err… wouldn’t it seem weird if the three of us suddenly decide to go on our separate mission? That would raise suspicion, don’t you think?”

She pinched her lips and stayed silent, refusing to let him try to justify his decision.

“Felicity…”

“No, Oliver. Let me get this straight. You can’t handle ignoring Isabel for a couple of hours so you decide to do all the travel by car, leaving Dig and I to deal with her and the rest of her minions. You think you going solo won’t be suspicious but God forbid you actually take your own bodyguard and assistant with you. Am I forgetting something?”

Oliver opened his mouth, obviously trying to come up with a proper reply. “I… Well it’s not…”

“It’s exactly like that. What I would like to know is why you don’t want us?” Felicity furrowed her eyes. “We haven’t known each other for long, Oliver. But it has still been long enough for me to pick up on that habit of yours. When pressure becomes too big, you run and find a way to blow off some steam. Whether it’s drinking with your best friend, partying all night long or…” She blushed slightly, as a very vivid picture emerged from her memory. “Hum. Other things. But now? Now we’re in a serious situation; You can’t behave like that. I’m sorry if I’m asking a lot from you but I think it’s more than time someone does.” Standing up, she put her coat on and picked up her purse, shaking her head. “I’ll see you at the hotel.”



And with that, she was gone, leaving him behind, slightly fuming. He couldn’t help but feel unfairly attacked. He wasn’t bailing out, just needed a bit of time by himself. What was so hard to understand about that? He had been tremendously involved, working more in the past weeks than he probably had in the last year alone. They knew very well that it was hard on him to be face to face with Isabel, having to put up with her sneaky comments. They weren’t the ones who had to put the mask on and be cordial.

Leaving a couple of dollar bills on the table, he stood up and left the restaurant as well, fishing for his phone in his jacket. Checking his watch, he saw he still had more than time and headed to the small square that was right opposite the Denny’s. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait long until she picked up.

“Ollie?”

“Laurel,” he smiled, relieved to hear the familiar voice. “I’m not waking you up, I hope?”

“No. Not at all. I’m surprised, that’s all. Is everything OK?”

“Yeah, yeah it’s fine. Good surprise, or bad surprise?” He sat down on a bench, watching a couple of squirrels running up and down a tree.

“Good, of course! You usually don’t call me in the morning when you’re away, that’s all. You sure you’re alright?”

“Yes. I’m fine. It’s just a bit nerve-wracking, you know. Being with the same people constantly. Just needed to hear a friendly voice, I guess.”

There was a small pause at the end of the line. “Is there any trouble with the other ones? I know you’re not exactly fond of Isabel…”

“It’s just that… Well, my assistant just gave me a bad time because I plan on doing the rest of the trip by car by myself, not with the group on the jet.”

“I see nothing wrong with that. I mean, you have the right to if you want to.”

“That’s exactly what I told her,” he laughed, relieved to see his thinking hadn’t been unreasonable.

“She seems like a strong head. Your assistant, I mean. You’re Oliver Queen, you are going to own that company one day. Surely you know better than her what’s good for QC. If you think it’s best for you to stay away and clear your head, you should do it.”

“You don’t think it could send the wrong message? Like… I’m not invested enough?” He breathed the last words, the ones that Felicity hadn’t said but meant clearly.

“Oliver, your name is on that building. How much more invested could you be?” Laurel slightly laughed.

“It’s not my name,” he whispered. Never in his life had he realized how true those few words were.

“What? Oliver, don’t be silly. What’s gotten into you? Of course you’re a Queen, this is your legacy.”

“No, it’s my father’s name. His legacy. So far all I’ve had to do was bear this name and show up at reception parties.” Saying those words out loud, letting his darkest doubts out in the open felt like a huge weight lifting off his shoulders.

“Ollie, that’s not true. Look, that press conference, you more than showed that you can shoulder it,” she softly explained.

He let out a bitter laugh. Of course she didn’t know. It hadn’t been him that night who had handled the pressure. Had he been alone, he wouldn’t have had a clue what to do.

Misunderstanding his silence, Laurel continued:

“I understand that your father giving you this opportunity to represent the family officially must be a heavy weight to carry. It won’t always be like that. Your father had your mom to support him, just like you’ll have me when we marry. You won’t be alone in this. We’ll be one of those power couples.” She laughed, her voice betraying her enthusiasm. “You CEO, me kicking ass as an attorney, just like we’ve always planned to. Nothing has changed, Ollie, it’s just that we are getting closer and closer to this step in our lives. We’re a team, remember?”

We’re a team, remember? We’re a team, remember? Those had been Felicity’s words that fateful night when they had found out about Isabel’s schemes. The night she had put that stupid Abba song on his phone, efficiently trying to ruin the mood and get his attention. It brought a smile on his lips. She’s never gonna let me get away with this.

“Anyway, Laurel. Thank you for the chat but I have to go. We’ll talk when I get back? Since I’ll be on the road, I might not be able to call you that often.” Suddenly, he couldn’t wait to go back to his hotel, see what his stubborn assistant had been planning to do to make sure he didn’t follow through with his road trip plan. Bring it on, Miss Smoak. Bring. It. On.




Oliver had barely passed the Hotel Lobby when he almost bumped into Dig.

“Oliver! I was looking for you.”

 “What’s the hurry?” Oliver asked, genuinely intrigued, having noticed the slight frown upon Dig’s face.

“Carly called. She had a small car crash last night. Nothing really bad, but she does have a broken arm. You know she’s alone with Andy and…”

“Of course. Of course! Just go. Did you manage to book a flight? Do I need to inform HR?”

“Felicity took care of that. But if you could inform HR yourself, I would appreciate it.”

“Sure, I’ll call them right away. Take as long as you need, I’ll cover up for you.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate it.” Dig picked up his bag and threw it over his shoulder.

“Don’t mention it,” Oliver patted him on the back. “If there’s anything I can do, just give me a call, OK?”

“I will. Good luck for the rest of the trip.” Dig took three steps towards the front door then turned around as if he was having second thoughts. “I’d watch my back if I were you.”

“Isabel?” Oliver frowned.

“Worse. Felicity.” Smirking, his bodyguard waved at him then disappeared through the door.

Shaking his head, Oliver didn’t waste any more time, going up to his room. He quickly called the HR Office at QC to inform them that John Diggle was given an official leave of absence for a private family matter. Any disputes should be directed to Oliver personally. Packing barely took a few minutes, which was more than fortunate. Knowing Felicity, she wasn’t going to let him go without a fight, especially since Dig wasn’t staying. By leaving now, half an hour before the group was supposed to leave, he could avoid the confrontation. Even if that meant having to deal with her later that day. At least there would be people around them, which meant she probably wouldn’t try to murder him right away.

After one last glance across the room to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything, he quickly dropped his key at the Front Desk and made his way to the garage where his car, a classic Corvette convertible (the perfect car for a road trip across the West Coast) was waiting for him.



**

Felicity took her time checking out. She even grabbed a latte from the coffee shop and leisurely walked out of the hotel lobby. The sun was high and bright already, forcing her to put on sun glasses. She made her way towards the hotel garage, knowing fully well this was where Oliver’s car was parked. She was just as aware that he probably wouldn’t linger any longer than necessary and would be in a hurry to leave. So predictable, Oliver…

The sound of her heels clicking on the macadam echoed loudly in the almost empty garage, only followed by the noise of her luggage wheels. She spotted his car right away, with the hood open.

Quickly hiding the small smile that was beginning to grow on her lips, she stopped near Oliver who was currently facing the motor, hands braced on the shiny black metal.

“Is something wrong?” She asked in fake concern.

Oliver must have been lost in thought because he jumped at the sound of her voice. A small flicker of surprise appeared on his face but wasn’t enough to chase the look of worry and incomprehension.

“I don’t know what’s wrong, it’s not starting. I had it checked last week and it made the trip overnight from Starling without any problem.” Frowning, he ruffled his hair then rested his hands on his hips.

“Mind if I take a look?”

“You?” His eyes creased in bewilderment.

“Yes, me,” she smiled indulgently. “I don’t want to brag or anything but… I know a bit about cars.”

“Well… be my guest. Just be careful, it’s a classic Corvette.” Moving out of the way, he waved towards the motor.

Bending over the open hood, she slightly nodded. “Mmhh Mhhh… I see.”

“What is it?” Approaching her, Oliver looked over her shoulder trying to identify what was apparently the source of the problem.

“The distributor cap has been removed and the main feed was pulled out.”

“What?” Getting closer, Oliver looked at the part of the motor she was pointing. “There’s supposed to be something there?”

“Yes. The distributor cap is what connects your key ignition to the motor. Without it, it won’t start. But I guess it’s your lucky day, I just happen to have a spare one in my purse!” Smiling sweetly at him, she ruffled in her bag, fishing out a small black object, along with 4 screws and the small screwdriver she always had with her for computer emergencies. He stared at her, mouth slightly open, then at the small items in her hand. Seeing he wasn’t making any move, she picked his hand, transferred her belongings to it and went to put her suitcase in the trunk.

Opening the door of the passenger seat, she put her seatbelt on. She couldn’t hear a thing coming from the front of the car but knew he hadn’t moved from his spot. Taking a deep breath, she checked if her ponytail was wind-proof, the car being a convertible with the roof down. She noticed a road map between both seats and picked it up. Felicity might be a technology girl through and through, she still loved the idea of those old maps that took way too much space. Back when she was young, her mother never had enough money to go on big vacations. So they always made small road trips, usually just long enough to make it down to the ocean for a few days then come back.

She had just unfolded this one, trying to figure out where they were on it when the hood was violently pulled back, the move making the rest of the car shake lightly with the counter shock. Willing herself to keep her face as impassible as possible, she didn’t raise her eyes when Oliver opened the door and seated himself behind the wheel.

“So, I think the best way to head to Medford is to take…”

Not saying a word, Oliver ripped the map out of her hands, violently crushing it into a tight ball, before throwing it over the window.

Glaring at her, he put the key in the ignition to start the car. “Anything to say, Felicity?”

She just shook her head, turning sideways to hide the smirk that had finally won over as the engine roared to life. Smoak 1 – Queen 0

Chapter Text

I can’t believe it. My car. My Corvette. She sabotaged my car!

They had been driving for almost an hour in a tense silence. After he had pulled into traffic, he took the nearest entrance to the Highway. They were currently driving south on the I-5 and had just passed a small town named Salem, which had made Felicity giggle for some reason. He had glared at her, then and she had pinched her lips, but kept quiet. They hadn’t said a word to each other, Oliver stubbornly keeping his eyes on the road while Felicity enjoyed the scenery. Well, as much as it was possible to enjoy a highway scenery.

The anger that had taken over him in the garage hadn’t even started to fade out. Still boiling, he could barely think straight and was quite thankful the traffic was smooth. I hired a psychopath. That’s the only explanation. Straight out of that Misery novel. I guess I should be thankful she only went after my Corvette – my baby! And didn’t decide to straight up break my feet.

Oliver took an exit and drove another mile or so until they were on a rather empty road. A forest could be seen on the right side while a single gas station took place on the left. He slowed down and pulled the car onto the curb. He took a deep breath, parking and getting out of the convertible. Circling it, he went straight to the passenger seat and opened her door, not meeting her eyes.

Understanding the message, she got off the car, visibly bracing herself. Leaning on the side of his corvette, she waited patiently while he paced, fists closed and head down. He took a few calming breaths then stopped in front of her, meeting her eyes for the first time since they had left the hotel.

“You sabotaged my car!” he finally roared. So much for the calming breaths...

Felicity pinched her lips but stayed quiet, probably sensing that he had more to say.

“Of all the things you’ve done, this one just… You have crossed the line so many times with me. Hacking my phone or whatever you call this, and by the way how the hell did you even manage to change my ringtone?! Interrupting my nights, forcing me to take your calls, lecturing me about my choices… WHILE I AM YOUR BOSS!” Shouting, he pointed his finger at her, slightly poking her shoulder. "Things cannot go on like this, Felicity. There are lines you do not cross and attacking an innocent car is one of them!” He threw her one last furious glance then resumed his pacing.

“Attacking?” Please, I didn’t cause it any harm,” she snorted, rolling her eyes.

“You could have! What if I had an accident? What if you had messed with the engine. It’s a collectible car, not a stupid Ford Fiesta!”

“I know, Oliver. It’s a very precious car. That probably costs more than what I make in a year. I just made sure you wouldn’t be able to sneak away like a thief. Which you were trying to, by the way.” Crossing her arms on her chest, she glared at him and he could see in her eyes she wouldn't back down.

“I don’t have to justify myself to you!” 

“When it involves my abilities to do my job, yes, you do,” she explained calmly, obviously trying to keep the tone down.

“Oh, so that’s how you want to see it? That me travelling by car is damaging your work?” Raising his arms, he looked at the sky. “This is getting better and better.” Should have let mum pick my assistant.

“Yes, Oliver, it is. You are so involved in your little world that you don’t see it affects me just as much. Do you really think that being your assistant doesn’t put me in Isabel’s radar as well? You’re having a hard time playing the part, well guess what? So am I! I’m the one who keeps digging up stuff about her!” She paused, catching her breath. “Digging things for you, doing much more than what I’m supposed to do. For you. Because I believe in you and I know that despite acting like a petulant child who didn’t get what he wanted for Christmas, you are much better for this company than she will ever be.”

“So you just decide to storm your way in? Not giving me a choice, not even asking me?”

“When was I supposed to ask, Oliver? When the group was to meet in the lobby? You would have been gone for an hour by that time.”

“It’s… you’re twisting everything!” He tried to defend himself, but there was no point in denying that, indeed, he had wanted to leave before everyone else. Changing topic, he added, “It doesn’t change the fact that if I want to travel alone, I have every right to!”

“Then send me back to Starling!” She challenged him, her tone much sharper now.

“Maybe I will!” Raising his voice as he threw her one last look, he made his way around the car once more and slipped behind the wheel.

“Don’t mind me!” She screamed, losing her temper as well as she opened the door and sat on the passenger seat.

“I won’t!” He roared.

“Fine!”

“Fine!”

Both slammed their doors angrily, fully intending on ignoring each other for the rest of the trip.



As if the weather decided to suit their mood, the sunny landscape they had been following ever since they left Portland slowly changed to grey and cloudy the further south they went. Oliver was keeping his eyes stubbornly on the road, doing his best to ignore his passenger. What was supposed to be a relaxing trip across beautiful Oregon turned into a dense and heavy confrontation that none of them seemed willing to back down from.

Saying that he was relieved when they finally reached Medford was an understatement. All he wanted to do was go to his room, get a drink or two, have a nice dinner by himself and stay as far away from any crazy female as possible. Throwing his keys to the valet, he jumped out of the car, opened the trunk and got his suitcase, not waiting to check if Felicity was following him. The rest of their group had just arrived as well, for which he couldn’t be more thankful as he didn’t have to wait for his room key. One of the secretaries in charge of the trip handed it to him with a flashing smile that quickly fell from her face once she saw his expression.

“Hum… Here is your key, Mister Queen. Do you know when Miss Smoak is going to…”

He cut her off. “She should be here in a minute. Tell her I don’t want to be interrupted tonight. No visits, no calls. Could you ask the lobby to send a couple of aspirins to my room?”

Taken aback, the red-haired woman stuttered. “Of... of course. I first have to finish checking everyone in but then I’ll make sure to stop by. Although, surely your assistant could…”

“No way I’m trusting her with pills!” Realizing that he was taking it out on the poor woman, he softened his voice. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you, there was a lot of traffic on the way down here and it got me in a cranky mood.” Smiling slightly, he lightly squeezed her arm in reassurance. “Thank you for the key. I’ll manage the rest on my own.”

As he walked away, it suddenly dawned on him that indeed, Felicity was his employee. He was in a position of power. How right you are, lovely red-haired woman. She is my assistant. I can ask anything I want. At any time. A small calculative grin appeared on his face as he stepped inside the elevator. Payback’s a bitch, Smoak.

Being Sunday, they hadn’t had anything planned which meant he could take the time to cool off and relax in his suite. They were staying in a decent hotel near the convention center that was conveniently located a couple of miles of the small airport but unfortunately away from the animations. He threw his jacket on the small sofa, kicking his shoes off and taking off his socks. He fell on his bed, grabbed the landphone on the night stand and slowly tapped it on his chin, wondering what his next move should be. Making up his mind, he quickly pressed 0, the direct line for the Front Desk.

“Andrew, reception of the Ramada, what can I do for you?”

“Hello. I’m Oliver Queen, room 502. I was wondering if you could tell me in which room my assistant is staying? She is not answering her cell and I’m getting worried.”

“Sure, mister Queen. What’s her name?”

“Smoak. Felicity Smoak.”

He could hear the employee typing on the keyboard. “Yes. She’s in room 517, sir.”

“Great, I’ll just go check if everything is alright, then.”

“Anytime, Mister Queen. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

“No, that will be all. Thank you.” He quickly hung up the phone, then picked it up again, dialing 517 this time. It rung a couple of times until she picked up.

“Hello?” She sounded out of breath and slightly intrigued.

“Felicity?”

“Oliver? Why are you calling me on this phone?” She asked, surprised. “Is there something wrong?”

“My phone’s battery is dead. And yes there is something wrong. I have this killer headache,” he explained, sounding calm and much more normal than the last time they had spoken to each other, which obviously raised her suspicions.

“… a headache?” 

“Yes. Could you call the Front Desk and ask them to send some aspirins or something for me?” 

“... sure. I’ll just do that. Using a phone, like the one you are currently holding in your hand” she replied, sarcasm pouring out of her words.

“Great. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Yes… wait, how did you know my room number?” 

“Oh, I just called the Front Desk to ask them. Don’t keep me waiting." He knew the smile could be heard in his voice but he couldn’t help it. Hearing her loud protests, he hung up on her, letting his smile take over his face at the image that popped in his head of his assistant fuming and cursing him, ponytail shaking with the outrage. Well… tonight is gonna be much more fun than I thought.

Picking up the remote, he zapped through the channels, trying to find something interesting enough to capture his attention. Only a couple minutes after his call, he heard a knock on his door. Smirking, he stood up, padding his way to the door. Opening it, he found himself facing a young man who couldn’t be any older than 18.

“You asked for medicine, sir?”

“Yes” Oliver replied with a smile, stepping aside to let the boy walk inside the room. He went to his jacket to retrieve a few dollars for tipping.

The bellboy handed him the small paper bag he was holding. “There you are, sir. Some aspirins and topical anesthetic.”

“Wait, what? What the hell is tropical anesthetist??” He frowned, reaching in the bag.

“Well the person who called said they were dealing with a cranky infant probably teething and… if it’s not the right remedy, I can bring it back…”

Oliver stared at the young man who was eyeing the tip he was still holding in his hand, clearly thinking he wouldn’t get it for some reason. Shaking his head, he handed the poor boy the five bucks. “No, it’s fine. It’s… my assistant, she… well. Nevermind. Thank you.” Putting a fake smile on his face, he walked him back to the door, cursing under his breath. That bloody woman.



None of them showed up to have dinner with the rest of the group. Felicity apparently still working on Isabel’s past and Oliver was still standing firm on his idea to avoid as many women as possible.

He spent the evening watching Die Hard on TV, one of his favorite movies that he hadn’t seen in years. It made him realize how long it had been since he’s had a quiet night in. No party, no restaurant, no fancy dinner, no work. Just getting lazy in front of the TV. He missed it. He missed that feeling of normalcy. His life was always busy, with work, family, friends, girlfriend, girlfriends on the side. When had he started craving something else? Something more… simple? Something that didn’t involve Oliver Queen, or Ollie?

His cellphone buzzing interrupted his thoughts. Glancing, he smiled when the goofy face of his best friend appeared on the screen.

“Merlyn! Calling me on a Sunday night, what’s going on?” He welcomed his call.

“What can I say? I’m getting older!”

Snorting, Oliver picked up a handful of popcorn. “What happened to the “Tommy Merlyn will never grow old and boring” mantra?”

“I’d like to think of myself turning more into a sophisticated gentleman farmer, thank you very much.”

“Tommy, you don’t own a farm.”

“Hey!”

“And no, playing Farmerama online doesn’t count.”

“But…”

Oliver interrupted him once more. “Neither does cosplaying Little House on the Prairie with playmates.”

Tommy stayed silence on the line.

“God, you’re replaying it in your head, right?!” Oliver realized.

“You have to admit, that was super hot,” Tommy replied dreamily.

Oliver let his thoughts wander back to that weekend when Tommy had rented a small old-fashioned farm and invited playmates. It had been a great weekend indeed.

Sighing, he admitted, “It was fun, yeah.” Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he added: “I assume that’s not the reason why you’re calling me, though?”

“Nah. Just wanted to check on you. I was at your house for brunch and your mother seemed worried for some reason. Is all good over there?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. I told mom I would call her this morning, I forgot.” Wonder why it escaped my mind, really… “I’ll call her tomorrow.”

“So… you’re sure everything is OK? You sound a bit off.”

“Yeah, just a headache.”  And a bat-shit crazy assistant.

He quickly hung up after that, not willing to be interrogated by his best friend who, despite the appearances, wasn’t so easy to fool. A long shower and another aspirin finally got rid of his migraine and it wasn’t long until he was fast asleep.



***

As he was making his way to the Hotel restaurant for breakfast, Oliver found himself cornered in the elevator by Isabel and Mark.

“We couldn’t help but notice you didn’t come down for dinner last night. Trouble in paradise with your devoted assistant?” Isabel asked him sweetly.

Tensing his jaw, he straightened his shoulders, willing himself to not let her get under his skin. “No. The trip had just been longer than I thought.”

“Obviously. Which is why we decided that using a private jet was much more convenient.”

As the elevator reached the ground floor, both men stepped aside to let her walk out first. “Although I can admit the lack of privacy on a plane can be a real downside for someone like you.”

“Talking from experience, Isabel?” He said loudly as she was retreating.

Her body slightly stiffened, the only indication that she had indeed heard him but she didn’t comment and kept on walking.

Oliver rolled his eyes, silently cursing himself for not being able to keep his mouth shut. He was just about to follow her into the dining room when something bumped into him. Turning over, he saw Felicity, with her tablet in hand - did she surgically attach it to herself or something? – who was frowning at him.

“Why on earth would you be standing right there,” she motioned around her, “like some dumb dead tree?”

Oliver raised an eyebrow. “And why on earth would you walk in an area surrounded by people,” he mimicked her gesture and motioned around him as well,  “eyes locked on that thing and not on your surroundings?”

She pinched her lips and breathed through her nose. “Some of us have work to do, Mister Queen.”

Glancing at her tablet he snorted. “And by that do you mean watching cute puppies videos, Miss Smoak?”

She narrowed her eyes at him and snapped her tablet against her chest. “It was spam, OK?”

“Sure it was. Come on, let’s have breakfast.” Taking her elbow in hand, he led her towards the restaurant.

An informal truce seemed to have been formed between them as they shared a small table. Once they had ordered their meal – eggs, bacon and toast for Oliver while Felicity picked pancakes and fruit salad – she pushed her tablet towards him.

“This is what I found last night.” Keeping her voice down, she made sure no one was within earshot. “I couldn’t find anything in Isabel’s bank accounts suggesting a suspect transaction. She hasn’t ordered to buy shares or anything like that recently. Lucy Keiffer bought shares of QC though, but nothing that would raise suspicions.”

Glancing at her tablet, Oliver felt confused as all he could see what numbers and more numbers. “Hum… sorry but what I am supposed to see?”

“Oh, sorry. That’s the stock exchange and the shares Keiffer has bought. It’s not that much so it wouldn’t attract anyone’s attention,” she quickly explained.

“Then if she didn’t buy a lot, why is it even relevant?”

“Because I found two other people who also bought shares, in small numbers, but still.”

“Let me guess… Isabel payed them a visit as well?” Oliver stopped himself once he saw their waiter approaching with their drinks.

Felicity waited until both of their coffees were set on the table and the employee far enough from their table to continue. “Exactly. I should try to dig up more but I’m not comfortable doing that using hotel wifi. I need more material.”

Oliver sighed. “That’s already impressive, Felicity. But you’re right, I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble. Try to find out as much as you can within reasonable boundaries, we’ll work on that once we head back to QC.” He took a sip of his black coffee and hissed.

“Too hot?” She asked with a small teasing smile.

“No. I think my teeth are still aching, despite that balm you sent me,” he glared at her.

She pinched her lips, trying to keep her smile at bay but her eyes twinkled with mischief. “Teething is a long process, I’m not surprised. Although at the age of 25 you might have set a record.”

Putting his cup down, he looked at her in the eye, engaging in a staring contest. She grinned innocently, blowing on her own cup of coffee.

Someone clearing their throat made them slightly jump out of surprise. Their waiter was standing by their table with two plates and seemed a bit uncomfortable at the idea of interrupting them.

“There you are, ma’am. Pancakes and a side of fresh fruits.” He put the plate in front of Felicity and turned to Oliver, “And scrambled eggs with bacon for you, sir. Anything else I can do for you?”

“No, that will be good. Thank you”, Oliver replied, already picking up his fork, efficiently sending the man away.

“So I checked our schedule…”

“Now that’s some progress,” he cut her off teasingly.

She raised her eyes from her pancakes and threw him a look.

“What? Just stating a fact!” He raised his hand in defense.

“Anyway. Like I was saying before you rudely interrupted me…”

“I wasn’t rude!”

“You were interrupting!”

“… Ok. I did interrupt you. Go ahead.” Waving his fork he looked at her expectantly, “I’ll behave, I promise.”

“Now that would be a first…” She said under her breath.

Oliver opened his mouth but she didn’t give him any time to cut her off again.

“As I was saying, we’re visiting some of our oldest backers today. You know them, I believe?”

“Yep. They could even be considered as family friends, which is why I was kinda surprised we put them on our list. They’ve always been loyal and trusting. They don’t seem like the kind of investors we need to reassure or convince.”

“I know, I wondered about that too. Well I couldn’t find anything weird about them or any clue that Isabel might have tried to reach to them. Which again only shows that she has been in touch with backers that could be convinced to… join the dark side.” She stopped herself to take a bite of her pancakes. Frowning, she added a generous amount of maple syrup.

“That’s a lot of syrup,” Oliver noted.

“It’s because that’s a lot of pancakes to begin with,” she shrugged. “Back to topic though. I got in touch with Sara last night. You know, since she works for the HR, she might be of good intel. Apparently we’re only visiting them out of courtesy. You’ll probably only have to thank them for their support, assure them how valuable they are and blablabla.”

“Which means today should be easy, I guess?”

“Yep. Tomorrow, though…” She grimaced.

“Yeah, I saw that. Redding, California. Huge share-holders, very wary about continuing their partnership.”

Felicity nodded. “They are not so much into eco-friendly resources, so it’s gonna be a tough nut to crack. They are more into good old fashioned oil wells. I couldn’t find any connection with Isabel either, so that’s already one thing you won’t have to worry about.”

“Well… let’s just take one day at a time. We’re having lunch with the Fraziers until probably late afternoon. We’ll tackle Redding afterwards.”

“Sure. Your room or mine?” She asked as she put a grape in her mouth.

Oliver stared at her for a second, loss for words. Did she just say that...?

“Oh God. I didn’t mean it like that… It’s… you know!” Taking a deep breath she continued, “it’s more comfortable to do it in a room.”

Oliver’s eyes grew slightly bigger at her words as he battled with a grin.

“Damn it! 3,2,1” She closed her eyes for a second.“Feel free to put me out of my misery at anytime.”

“I’m having way too much fun right now,” he laughed. “But let’s say my room, mine is probably bigger than yours.”

Felicity smirked. “Yeah I’m not gonna argue with that.”

Chapter Text


The Fraziers turned out to be a 60 year-old something couple that lived in a villa just outside of Medford. Both were very friendly and welcomed the entire group in their house but it was soon obvious to everyone that they had a soft spot for Oliver. Lunch was being held in their dining room and was probably the most laid-back meal Felicity’s has had since the beginning of the trip.

“So, Oliver, how’s Thea doing? She’s a teenager now, I haven’t seen her since she started going to high school,” Mrs Frazier asked while they were waiting for their dessert.

“She’s doing great. Growing up a bit too fast for my taste, though,” Oliver laughed, sitting back in his chair.

“Little sisters always grow up too fast. So do grand-daughters, I’m afraid,” Mr Frazier chimed in, looking lovingly at their own granddaughter who had been allowed to eat with them. She was an adorable 7 year-old metis with two cute little braids on and a huge smile. She also seemed to have a crush on Oliver. She hadn’t left his side ever since they arrived and even insisted on sitting between him and Felicity for lunch.

“I was on the phone with your father a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned things were getting serious between you and that lovely girl. I think he is getting quite impatient to be a grand-father as well,” Mr Frazier continued, laughing slightly.

Oliver visibly stiffened on his chair at the mention of his father but kept up the mask on his face. “I’m afraid he’ll have to wait a bit more before he has any grand-kids. It’s not planned in the near-future.”

“You have all the time in the world for this, my dear,” Mrs Frazier patted him on the arm, giving her husband a look.

Oliver was saved having to reply as dessert was brought. It was a simple chocolate cake with a raspberry mousse on top, two of Felicity’s favorite things in the world. You and I are going to do some naughty things…

“Anna picked the dessert, I’m afraid. It’s her favorite one. If it’s too rich, we also have fruits in the kitchen.” Mrs Frazier looked around the table, seeing that most of the women declined the plate the waiter was offering them.

“Oh no, don’t worry. I don’t really have a sweet tooth and the meal was absolutely delicious," Isabel reassured her. “Just a cup of tea would be fabulous.”

“You don’t like chocolate cake?!” Anna asked in disbelief. My thoughts exactly.

Isabel laughed, “I know it’s hard to believe. When you grow up you might stop liking it as well.”

Anna looked horrified at the prospect and Oliver softly nudged her. “Don’t worry, all grown ups don’t end up hating chocolate cake.” He pointed his chin towards Felicity who was savoring her dessert.

The little girl giggled, then leaned towards her and whispered, “You know, you can have a second helping if you want to.”

Felicity swapped her head. “No, that would be rude,” she whispered back. “Besides, you’re almost done with yours too and I’m pretty sure your grand-parents wouldn’t let you ask for a second plate either.”

“I know. But if you do, they won’t dare to say anything, then we could split up.”

Felicity couldn’t help but chuckle. “Then I wouldn’t be making a good impression on them, would I?”

Anna frowned. “Oh. I didn’t think of that.”

As they were talking together, a plate with an untouched chocolate cake appeared between them. They turned their head to their right, where Oliver was looking at them with an indulgent smile. Both girls shared a look, then glanced towards Mr and Mrs Frazier who were deep in conversation with Denis Lewis.

“I’d hurry if I were you.”

Felicity grabbed the plate, quickly dividing the slice of cake, and transferred the bigger piece to Anna’s plate.

“But what about you? You don’t like chocolate cake either?” Anna murmured, while showing a huge fork of dessert in her mouth.

“I do. But I like you more,” Oliver winked at her.


 

The weather was exceptionally warm for spring, which allowed everyone to gather in the huge gardens once lunch was over. Most of them were sitting near the swimming pool, enjoying the warming sun on their skin, while Felicity preferred to take a stroll on the property. Having lived almost all of her life in an apartment, she took almost every chance she had to appreciate the outdoors. At least, the gardens. She wasn't really into wilderness.

As she was approaching the rose bushes on the farthest side of the house, she heard giggles coming from the small maze made of bay trees. Smiling softly, she recognized Anna’s voice right away but was surprised when a much deeper voice joined the little girl’s squeals.

“I really think this is it, Anna. We’re lost. No one is ever going to find us, I’m afraid,” Oliver said in a serious and grim voice.

“You’re so silly! I know exactly the way out. And you’re so tall you probably can see above the walls anyway! Oh, look, there are already a few roses growing here! Aren’t they pretty?”

“Yes, very.”

“You can pick some up, if you want to. I won’t say anything to granny.”

Oliver laughed. “I’m sure she would figure it out if she sees some in my hands don’t you think? And what would I do with them anyway?”

“Well you would give them to Felicity, of course. It’s what boys are supposed to do. They offer flowers to their girlfriend.”

Felicity covered the smile that had appeared on her face with her hand, wondering how Oliver would handle the situation.

“Felicity isn’t my girlfriend, Anna,” he explained in a patient voice.

“Why? You gave her your dessert.” Even if they were still out of Felicity’s sight, she could almost see the frown on the little girl’s face.

“I gave it to the two of you. And I already have a girlfriend.”

“But she’s so pretty! Your babies would be so cute! I also have a boyfriend at school and daddy says that I don’t have to stay with him all my life. Maybe there is someone better for me out there. He also says he hopes I won’t find him until I’m at least 30. Which is really old.”

Felicity couldn’t help but blush at those comments, while also being amused at the idea of Oliver being cornered by a 7 year-old talking about babies.

“Argh… It’s… yes. She’s very pretty. But it’s not how it works, she is just a very good friend.”

 “She is also very smart, I heard you say it to Granny. Daddy always says that being pretty is good, but being smart is more important,” Anna spoke confidently.

“She is really smart, yes.” 

“You don’t think she is kind?”

“Felicity is all of that, yes, but…”

“But what?” The little girl asked seriously. "it's-"

“Maybe we should join the others, don’t you think?” Oliver interrupted her. “I wouldn’t want your grand-parents to worry.”

“OK. But I won the game!”

“Yes, you did. Fair and square.”

Soon enough, the two of them made it out of the maze only to be welcomed by Felicity’s teasing smile.

“Having fun, you two?”

“Yes. Oliver isn’t very good in mazes, though. He kept on getting lost,” Anna looked at him almost reproachingly.

“I tried my best!” Oliver defended himself. “Also, I think you were good enough for the two of us.”

Anna seemed to ponder his words. “You’re right.” Turning towards Felicity, she added, “Don’t go in there with him. He is scared of spiders.”

Felicity chuckled, meeting Oliver’s eyes. “Is he now?”

“Yes, although he told me to not tell anyone.”

“And thank you for keeping your promise, Anna,” Oliver chimed in.

Anna looked at him, then put both hands over her mouth, giggling. “I have to pee. See you in the house!” Turning away, she ran towards the house, leaving them behind.

“I didn’t know you were so comfortable with kids,” Felicity said.

“I have a baby sister. She’s ten years younger, so I’ve had a lot of practice. Anna is really sweet, she reminds me a lot of Thea,” Oliver smiled, shoving his hands in his pocket.

They resumed their walk, getting even further away from the house.

“The Fraziers are very nice people. They seem to have known you your whole life.”

“They have, as far as I can remember. I think I even spent a summer here with Tommy when Thea was born. I think my mother couldn’t deal with two over energetic boys and a baby,” he laughed.

As a small wind came through the trees, Felicity shivered, having left her cardigan inside. Oliver took off his sweat-shirt and wordlessly put it around her shoulders.

Surprised, she looked at him. “Thank you.”

He just smiled at her and shrugged. “So, should I hire a personal guard for my car tonight?”

“That depends. Are you going to be your stubborn self or finally listen to reason?”

“You are the one calling me stubborn?!” Oliver huffed.

“… maybe we can share that trait. Although I’m much more reasonable than you.”

“Reasonable is the last word I would use to describe someone who thinks the best way to prove her point is to sabotage her boss’s car.”

“Oh, please. I wasn’t trying to prove a point by sabotaging your car. The topical anesthetic, now THAT was me proving a point!”

“I haven’t said my last word about that, by the way,” he chuckled.

“Do your worst, Queen.” Side-eyeing him, she added, “Just know that I hit back. Hard.”

“I’ve noticed.” Still smiling, Oliver shook his head. “I like it that you do.”



***

Once everyone left to get back to their hotel, Felicity and Oliver retreated to his room in order to get ready for the few days that they were going to spend in Redding. Walter had warned them that the Backstone family was considering selling their shares and withdrawing their support. Not only did they need to reassure them and convince them not to sell, but also try to persuade them to invest into their new eco-friendly plan, which was in complete opposition of their usual business.

As Oliver was busy reading notes Walter had given him, Felicity was occupying herself by creating diagrams about how much profit those new eco-friendly resources could bring them.

“The Backstones’ main concern is money. That’s how we need to convince them. Don’t waste time talking about global warming and stuff. Focus on how profitable those investments will be in the long-term. Based on the Venizzi report and different data I gathered from the EPA, the cost will be absorbed within 3 years and profits can be expected after that.” She showed him the diagrams she had found, pointing to the most important parts.

“This looks like Chinese to me,” he groaned, falling back on the office chair.

“I know, they are a bit too complex. I’ll make new ones, much more simple, then put them on a USB stick. You’ll only have to point to the parts in red, OK?” she offered.

“Red. I think I can at least remember that.”

“When is the presentation, by the way?” Felicity asked, shutting off her tablet. They had been through all the main points Oliver was supposed to talk about. All that was left for her was to make a few simple graphics for him.

“In the afternoon. Around 4PM.”

“Maybe I should drive, that would give you the time to read your notes once more?”

Oliver glared at her.

“Oh God, tell me you’re not one of those Neanderthal men.”

“I have never let anyone drive this car! Not even Tommy!” He protested loudly.

“Fine. Have it your way. I was just trying to help.” She raised her hands and got up from the bed, packing her belongings. “We’re expected in the dining room in 20 minutes, I should get going.”

“Already?” Surprised, he checked the alarm clock and saw that it was indeed close to 7:00.

“Yup.” She was already opening the door before he had a chance to get up. “See you there.”

 

Dinner, unsurprisingly, was as stiff as usual when there was no need to put up a face and keep up appearances. Oliver excused himself as soon as he was finished, barely taking the time to tell her that he was going to the hotel bar. She was still munching on a cookie and didn’t even have the time to ask him at what time they were supposed to leave the next morning. Shrugging, she decided to take her time to savor her meal, knowing she could still show up at the bar before going back to her room.

She made a small stop at the souvenirs shop, keeping up with a tradition she’s had ever since she was a kid. She always bought a postcard of every place she travelled to. She barely had the time to do so in Portland and Seattle and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do it for Medford. The city might have been small but she had had a good time there. After a small chat with the cashier, who was wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt, she finally made her way to the bar area.

It was one of those bars that were obviously made to look like a traditional English pub. It had this old vibe, a lot of beer taps and the furniture was made of dark wood and thick curtains were hanging from the few windows. A quick look around told her Oliver wasn’t there. Frowning, she went to ask one of the waitresses.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for my boss. Tall, dirty blonde hair, blue eyes. He's wearing dark grey pants and a blue sweat-shirt?”

“Oh, Ollie!” The waitress smiled, blushing slightly under her heavy make-up. Jesus Christ, I leave him alone for 20 minutes and the waitress already knows his name.

“He’s in the backroom, playing pool.” The woman pointed to the back of the room that was protected by a big curtain. Following her lead, Felicity made her way across the pub and carefully pulled back the curtain, wary of what she could find behind it. Quickly glancing around, she let out a breath of relief, seeing Oliver was indeed playing pool and all the participants were fully dressed. Now that’s what I call significant progress.

“No, sweetheart. You really have to bend more.” Felicity rolled her eyes at his words. Oliver was currently showing a brunette how to shoot properly.

She cleared her throat, trying to get his attention but the music was loud enough to swallow the noise.

“Oliver,” she calmly called, facing his back. “Oliver,” she repeated, but he ignored her.

“OLIVER!”

He jumped in surprise, turning on his feet. “Felicity? What are you doing here?”

“You didn’t tell me when we are supposed to leave tomorrow,” she explained, rather stiffly. Truth be told she really wasn't comfortable with the whole 'Ollie' persona.

“Right. Around 8:00. No, make it 8:30. The night might be long,” he answered, winking at one of the three girls that were currently batting their eyelashes at him.

“Ollie, who is this girl? You didn’t tell us you were accompanied,” the only blonde girl of their party asked, leaning on his shoulder.

“Oh God, no. I don’t accompany him. I’m his assistant,” Felicity quickly explained. “Don’t worry, you can get back to… whatever you were planning to do. Pretend you didn’t even see me.”

“I always wanted to have an assistant. It must be so nice to have someone who brings you water or anything you want,” chirped the brunette that Oliver had been teaching as she leaned down to line up her shot.

Felicity’s nostrils flared slightly at the idea of being seen as this kind of assistant, while Oliver smirked and raised his eyebrows at her.

She decided to ignore the both of them. “Fine. I’ll meet you downstairs at 8:30 then. Is there anything else your assistant could do for you, Mister Queen?” She sarcastically asked, placing a forced smile on her face.

Oliver looked at her, amused, tapping a finger on his chin. “Actually, yes, there is. Could you stop at a drugstore for me?”

Disconcerted, she eyed him suspiciously. “Tonight?”

“Yes, tonight. I ran out of condoms,” he smiled at her innocently, while his cheerleaders giggled behind their hands.

Felicity’s eyes almost popped out of her head as soon as his words registered in her brain. No, he didn’t dare…

She couldn’t help the blush that creeped on her face but she would be damned if she let him get away with this. “You know, I would, Mister Queen but as you know very well... I don’t have a car.”

Fishing in his pocket, he handed her the keys. “Problem solved, Miss Smoak.” Openly smirking, he waited for her reaction, obviously dying to see how far she was ready to go in this little game.

Staring at the keys in his hand, she quickly made her decision and snatched them. “Alright then. I guess you’ll still be here?”

“I promise I won’t go anywhere until you get back.”

Throwing him one last dirty look, she finally turned back and approached the curtain. She was just about to open it when his voice reached her once more.

“Oh, Felicity! I’m sure you probably remember but… make them jumbo sized, the other ones are way too small for me!”

She almost tripped over her own feet and pushed back her glasses on her nose with a shaky hand. That bastard. Jumbo size, jumbo size… I’m gonna jumbo size you so hard you won’t be able to sit for a week, Queen.



She made it in record time, thanks to the nice souvenirs shop employee who directed her to a nearby drugstore. Taking a deep breath, she entered the backroom where Oliver was currently taking a body shot off of the blonde girl currently laying on the pool table. This guy is a walking cliché.

“Felicity! Already back!” He cheerfully welcomed her.

Smiling stiffly she handed him his car keys. “Not even a scratch, don’t worry.”

He put them back in his pocket, hand already reaching for the small package she was taking out of her purse.

“There you go. Condoms, jumbo sized, just like you asked.”

He smiled at her, eyes gleaming with mischief and laughter.

“And also your treatment cream for your genital herpes. I noticed you ran out of it when I unpacked your bags.”

His smile froze on his face, just as his three companions shared embarrassed looks. He stared at her for a few seconds, jaw rigid and lightly nodding his head.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow morning, then? Have a great night!” With one last wave, she confidently stepped out of the room, feeling Oliver’s eyes on her back. She knew he wasn't about to let it go, and bit back a smile as she remembered the face he had made at the mention of his 'genital herpes".

The elevator was already closing when a hand appeared out of nowhere to stop the doors, startling her. She hadn't expected him to follow her. At all.

“Oliver! You scared me to death!”

He stepped inside and looked at her. “Genital herpes, really?”

“Come on. With your manwhore ways, it’s more than a safe bet,” she snorted, searching for her key inside of her purse.

“Man…whore ways?” He repeated incredulously. 

“What else would you call it, honestly?” She quirked an eyebrow, just as the elevator reached their floor.

Stepping outside, she made her way to her room, Oliver still in toe.

“Whatever the… that is… my private life is none of your business!”

“It is when you make me go on personal errands at night.” She lightly tapped his cheek before sliding her keycard in the lock. “Goodnight, Oliver.”

She closed the door on him, finally letting the smile take over her face.



Oliver stood there, lightly gaping at the nerve his assistant had. Finally shaking his head, he made his way to his room. It was only when he was stepping out of the bathroom after a quick shower that he remembered about the girls who were still probably waiting for him downstairs. He grabbed the phone, asking the Front Desk to put him through the bar’s direct line and quickly asked the employee to apologize to the ladies in the backroom and to put everything they might order on his credit card. He was considering joining them when his eyes fell on a few documents Felicity had left for him to read on his desk. Sighing, he grabbed them and slipped under the sheets, preparing himself for a very different night than what he had had in mind merely thirty minutes before. He was in the middle of his read when he stopped himself, looking at the ceiling of his room.

“Genital herpes,” he laughed, shaking his head. That woman will be the death of me.

Chapter Text

Oliver and Felicity left the hotel much earlier than the rest of the group. Even if their destination, Redding, was only a couple of hours away, they were hoping to get there early enough to make sure everything was ready for Oliver’s presentation. They were meeting a few members of the Backstone family in their headquarters and if all went well, they might get an appointment with the patriarch of the family who, despite being well into his seventies, was still ruling the clan with a firm hand.

As they had been briefed, this stop was, so far, the toughest one. The Backstones already warned Walter that they were seriously reconsidering their partnership with QC. The gas explosion, which they still didn’t know much about, and QC’s new direction towards cleaner, greener energy sources were seen as the two companies getting further away from each other.

“Remember, focus on the financial aspect. I worked on those graphics last night to make them clear and simple. Focus on the things in red and you’ll be fine,” Felicity reminded him as they were driving down the interstate. They had put the roof back up, not willing to arrive there disheveled. They both wore comfortable clothes, having planned a small stop at their hotel to change into more appropriate outfits.

“Remind me again how long we’ve been partners with them?” Oliver asked, eyes firmly on the road.

“Mmmhh…” Felicity quickly tapped a few keys on her tablet. “12 years. You also supported them when there was that oil leak in the pacific ocean in 2004. Might be good to remind them of that. Smoothly, of course.”

“Smooth is my middle name, didn’t you know?” Oliver smirked, quickly glancing at her and wiggling his eyebrows.

Felicity chuckled. “Eyes on the road, Mister Oliver Smooth Queen.”

Oliver smiled at her one last time then focused on his driving for a while, the silence between them being comfortable and even reassuring. Felicity was still busy doing God knows what on her tablet, checking a few papers every now and then. After a good 15 minutes, she put the papers back in their folder and turning around, left it on the back seat. Turning off her tablet, she slipped it back into her purse, sighing. Feeling unwell, she rested her head against her seat, closing her eyes.

“Everything OK?” Oliver asked suddenly.

“I get easily sick in a car. I shouldn’t have read that long. I just feel kinda dizzy,” she replied, her eyes still closed.

“Do you want me to stop? We’re way ahead of schedule.”

“No, no. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. I just need to relax, it will pass,” she mumbled, both hands resting on her lap.

Fortunately, Oliver didn’t push it. Even though she couldn't see him, she could sense that his driving was careful and knowing he was probably trying to be as considerate as possible made her smile.

It was only when the car stopped moving that she opened her eyes. “What are we doing here?” Slowly looking around her, she sighed. “You really didn’t have to. I’ll be fine, I don’t want us to be late.”

“Don’t be silly. We’ll be there by noon and the meeting is at 4. We have plenty of time. Come on, get out, get some fresh air. I’ll get you a coke.” Opening the door, he swiftly walked inside the shop, leaving her no choice but to get up as well. Noticing, on the corner of the building, a small table with two benches on either side of it, she slowly made her way there, taking big gulps of fresh air.

She was barely sitting down when Oliver came back to her, holding a small bottle of coke and a bag of chips. “Here, drink this slowly. Once you feel better, you should try to get some chips as well. Something sweet and something salty usually helps me when my stomach is acting up.” He opened the bottle for her, putting it on the table, and sat on the bench as well.

Giving him a small smile, she picked up the bottle, drinking a few sips. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it. Do you need anything else?” 

“No. This is already more than enough.”

“OK. Let me get your papers, I might as well re-read those documents now.”

While he was gone, Felicity took the chance to get a look around her and noticed that they were almost in the middle of nowhere. There was barely any traffic on this portion of the road, only a couple of cars had passed since they had arrived.

She almost didn’t notice Oliver was back before he sat back again on the bench next to her, mumbling. “So, to make it short: I remind them of the profits QC made them realize in the past years; move onto how financially interesting it will be for them to back us up. I’ll use your graphics to prove that with all the help we get from the state of California, the tax cuts and so on, they will get their investment back in the next couple of years. Also, when the moment is right, smoothly remind them that we backed them up in times of trouble and it might be time to give that trust back.”

Felicity smiled, nodding approvingly. “In short? Yep.”

He snapped his head back at her. “Anything else I’m missing?”

“No. I really don’t think so. Just be your usual self. You’re really good when it comes to speaking in public. I don’t doubt you’ll do great.” 

Oliver smiled softly. “I hope so. I don’t want to mess that one up.”

“You won’t.” Reaching over, her hand found one of his and she lightly squeezed. “You have a natural talent to charm people. Just use it.”

He glanced down at their joined hands, making her blush when she realized that it wasn't exactly appropriate. Crossing her arms on her chest, she cleared her throat. “I already feel better. We can go, now.”

“No. We have plenty of time, I’d rather make sure you’re alright. Besides we’re not going anywhere until you feel good enough to eat something.”

She rolled her eyes at him but didn’t add anything, knowing fully well she wouldn’t be able to eat anything right now.

“Fine.”

They both fell back in a comfortable silence, only interrupted whenever Felicity would put the bottle back on the table or Oliver would turn a page. Unfortunately, if she had no problem with silence, Felicity really had a hard time dealing with inactivity. Putting her elbows on the table, she rested her head on her joined hands.

“I noticed you already knew those documents quite well. I’m actually surprised you found the time to read them so thoroughly last night.”

He glanced at her. “I studied them after you went to your room.”

“Oh. So those three charming ladies declined your company?” She teased him.

“Nope. I didn’t go back to the pub. Thought this,” he motioned the papers he still had in hand, “was more important.” Smirking, he added, “See? I can be responsible when I want to.”

“I’m impressed.” Smiling, she picked up the bag of chips and opened it. Offering it to him, he took one, shoving it in his mouth as she did the same. “I never asked you but… how long have you been working at QC?”

“About three years now. I first worked with Walter, my dad didn’t have the patience to deal with me. Then I was moved to the Marketing Department.”

“Why Marketing?”

“No idea. It seemed like the best solution. It’s also a good way to make sure I get in touch with every other department,” he shrugged, stealing another of her chips.

“Do you like it?”

“Working in Marketing?”

“Yeah. Or at QC. Both, actually.” Grabbing a handful of chips, she put one on her mouth, waiting patiently for him to answer. He seemed to consider her question, looking thoughtful.

“Yes. Yes, I do. I’ll be honest, at first it was just a way for me to keep access to my trust fund. But I’m just realizing that it’s a chance to be involved in such a big company, that can make a real difference in the world. My grand-father started it. My dad, with my mother’s help, made it what it is today. It’s a bit overwhelming to think I’ll have to mark it like they both did. This whole project, this new direction we’re taking… this could be it, you know?”

“It’s a way to make it yours as well and not just something you’re going to inherit,” Felicity nodded.

“… exactly.” He looked at her in wonder, tilting his head.

“… do I have something on my face?” She asked him hesitantly, shifting under his gaze.

“No,” he laughed. “You’re just really good at reading people.”

“Most introverts are.”

“I never saw you as an introvert… you’re way too much into confrontation for that,” he said, surprised.

Felicity quirked an eyebrow. “I’m not into…” She stopped herself as she remembered her behavior from the last few days. “Damn. Maybe I am. I guess we all change at some point.” She laughed slightly, shaking her head. “My mum would be over the moon. She always thought I was too reserved.”

As Oliver was about to say something more, she shook the empty bag in front of him. “See? I ate it all!”

Probably understanding she didn't exactly want to elaborate, he got up, picking up their belongings. “Alright. Do you need anything before we leave?”

“Nope. I’m all good. Let’s go.”

 

***

After a quick stop for lunch, they arrived at their hotel around 2PM, before the rest of the group. They were supposed to meet in the Lobby at 3:30, which gave them plenty of time to change their clothes. A conference room had been booked at their hotel and Felicity got there in advance to make sure all the tech was working properly. It wasn’t exactly part of her job description, but she knew that no one was qualified to do so. It wasn’t until she had checked that whatever was on her laptop could be shown on the white screen that was on one of the walls that she stopped herself to get a good look around the room. She was surprised to see that there were just a few seats available. Frowning, she was about to ask one of the hotel employees to bring some more when she almost bumped into Mark.

“Fancy seeing you here,” he welcomed her, his lips forming a thin line on his face.

“I’m just making sure everything is ready for Oliver’s presentation,” she defended herself, still on her guard around him. “I think there might be a problem though. The room is rather small and there are not enough chairs for everyone.”

“Oh, no. Isabel thinks it’s best if the Backstones are met in a small comity. So it will only be a couple of executives,” he smiled sweetly, fixing his bowtie. From what she had seen, Mark had an unusual sense of fashion. He seemed to have a soft spot for colorful bowties and vests. He always looked neat and crisp with a little touch of originality.

Tearing her eyes from his bowtie – blue with red polka dots – his words finally registered.

“What? Why?”

“I don’t ask her to justify her decisions. See the bright side, you’re getting free time. Your boss will have to make it on his own, this time.”

“That’s not what was planned! I’m supposed to be here!” She started to panic. Oliver was good with his speech but they had planned for her to be there to handle the technical questions.

“Aw, sweetie. I’m sure he’ll manage just fine without you. And if he can’t, Isabel will be there, don’t worry.” The sarcasm in his voice and the glee he wasn’t even hiding confirmed that Isabel had probably done it on purpose. But I’m just supposed to be a low-key assistant. Why does she feel threatened? What does she know?

Trying to hide her thoughts, she just shrugged and went to pick up her handbag that she had left on the table. “I’ll just wait for Oliver, then. I need to explain how to work the laptop.” Also, there is no way I’m leaving you alone in this room.

Fortunately, Oliver showed up a couple of minutes later, efficiently breaking the ice cold atmosphere between the two. Seeing her standing awkwardly, he understood right away that something was up. She just discreetly shook her head at the question in his eyes.

“Apparently, the meeting will only be for a few executives. No assistants allowed,” she explained, keeping her voice as neutral as possible. “I’m just going to show you how this works," she added, pointing to her laptop and the white screen behind her.

“Whose decision is it? That’s not what was planned,” Oliver asked Mark.

“Isabel thinks it’s better to keep it between top executives,” Mark explained, somehow less confident now that he was facing Oliver. “I’ll just… I’ll go see where she is.” He hurried to the door, obviously not comfortable under Oliver’s furious glare.

“Let’s not waste time. It’s done on purpose but we don’t really have a choice. You know everything you have to say. You’ll find the graphics there," Felicity quickly said, pointing to a file on the desktop. “You’ve got this, Oliver.”

He opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by a tall, bulky man who was in his thirties. “Queen! Surprised to see you there on time!”

Placating his most professional smile, Oliver turned around, ready to welcome the newcomer. “Bradford. Good to see you again. I didn’t know you were supposed to be here.” Shaking his hand, he added, “I thought your sister was going to join us.”

“She was, but she changed her mind. Pregnant women, you know how they are,” Bradford laughed. “And who is this charming lady?”

“My assistant. Miss Smoak, this is Bradford Blackstone.”

“Nice to meet you, Mister Blackstone.” Pushing her glasses back on her nose, Felicity turned to Oliver. “I better go.”

“What? Such a lovely girl like you? You’re not gonna leave us between men, are you?” Bradford's smile was warm and he sounded more teasing than inappropriate.

“Well, assistants are not supposed to attend this meeting, Mister Backstone,” Isabel’s voice interrupted them. “I can assure you I will represent the fairer sex. That will be all, Miss Smoak. Unless Oliver needs anything else?”

Oliver gave her a hard look then turned his head to Felicity. “No. Thank you, you can go.”

Throwing him one last reassuring look, she walked out of the room, chewing on her lower lip. She didn’t doubt he could manage just fine without her, especially since he seemed well prepared. Nonetheless she was still uncomfortable and nervous.

Having nothing to do, she headed back to her room, not willing to be witnessed pacing and biting her nails. This meeting was very important for the company and, even if they hadn’t mentioned it, for Oliver. It was one of his first big tests that he couldn’t afford to fail. Keeping the Backstones as backers would prove that he was worthy of his position and could handle more responsibilities.

One hour and a phone call to Sara later, Felicity was spread on her bed, surrounded by her tablets and laptop. To her surprise, Sara had brought up some new information. Mark had requested to have some information about her, including her resume. Now that explains why she kicked me out of the room. It also turned out that there had been rumors about Isabel who wasn’t supposed to be promoted this quickly. Apparently it even had caught Walter himself by surprise. What the hell happened in Russia to get Robert Queen to make this move so fast?

The small alerts she had on the stock exchanges had also showed that Isabel’s Deatheaters had been buying more shares in the last couple of days as well. Always in small numbers, not enough to attract attention. But they were clearly following a pattern that seemed to be gaining more parts in QC. Knowing what Isabel had been trying to do with Oliver, Felicity’s main theory was that Isabel was planning a hostile takeover. But who was her direct partner? So far, she had found nothing that could tie Isabel with another company big enough to be able to buy off QC.


A small knock on her door startled her. Sticking the pen she’d be chewing in her hair, she eagerly got up from the bed and padded across the room. Checking in the peephole, she let out a sigh of relief to see that it was Oliver. Opening the door, she was slightly surprised to see him quite relaxed, having let go of his suit jacket and tie.

“So, how did it go?” She asked right away, inviting him inside.

“Surprisingly good,” he smiled proudly. “Brad was intrigued by our new project. I convinced him the profits he would get would be much higher than the original costs. Those numbers from the Environment Department you found played a big part. He wants to check them and actually asked if I could meet up with the rest of the clan by the end of week.”

“Oliver, that’s amazing!” She patted his shoulder. “Did he have questions? Details, Queen! I need details!”

He chuckled as he sat down on her bed. “Honestly, I just did what I planned to do in the first place. Approached him with the financial part, like you said to. Your graphics were much more simple to understand, by the way.”

“So we have to add another visit to this trip?” She went to the mini-fridge and offered him a bottle of water.

“Not really. He just wants me.”

Felicity stopped as she was reaching for her own bottle.

“Just you?”

“Yep. He said they don’t want to be bothered in their family house with tons of guests, his sister being pregnant and all that.”

“Isabel must have been so pissed.”

“She was. You should have seen her face," Oliver smirked as he tipped his bottle against hers. “Cheers!”

“So when are we going?”

“What do you mean, ‘we’?” 

Felicity glared at him, not impressed. Nice try.

“Despite what you seem to believe, I can do things on my own.”

She snorted. Oh, please.

He huffed a laugh and shook his head. “Very well… if that’s how you want to play it. We are going this weekend. We’ll have to pass on Fresno, which wasn’t a big step anyway.”

He stood up, getting ready to leave. “Since you’ve been so helpful today, I generously decided to not get back at you right away for that little stunt of yours from last night.”

She almost choked at his words. “Generously?!”

“I know, I know. You’re lucky to have me as your boss,” he smirked, lightly tapping her nose with his index. “Just know that I haven’t said my last word, Miss Smoak.”

Glancing down at her nose, she raised her eyes and despite her best efforts couldn’t keep the smile off her face. “As I already said… Do your worst, Mister Queen.”

Chapter Text

"Bad Moon Rising"

 

 

 


I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin'.
I see bad times today.

[Chorus:]
Don't go around tonight,
Well, it's bound to take your life,
There's a bad moon on the rise.

I hear hurricanes ablowing.
I know the end is coming soon.
I fear rivers over flowing.
I hear the voice of rage and ruin.

[Chorus]
All right!

Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like we're in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye.

 

 

 

 

“Thank God we don’t have to go to Fresno. The temperatures there are abnormally high for the month of April. More than 100 degrees! I hate it when the weather is so hot. It gets my hair frizzy because my skull gets kinda sweaty.” Felicity took a sip of water then resumed her monologue, “Isn’t it ironic? Most women would love to have curly hair. Well, most women with straight hair. Women who have curly hair want them to be straight. Do men feel like that too? Your hair is straight, would you like to have some curls? Or maybe…”

“Felicity?” Oliver cut her off.

“Mmmh… yep?” she turned her head, giving him her full attention. Her glasses were slightly askew and her usually neat ponytail was long gone.

“You’re babbling non-sense again.”

She gasped. “That is not very gentlemanly of you to say that!”

Oliver smiled at her, taking in her so unusually disheveled appearance. “I think we have already established that I am not a gentleman?”

“There you go, Miss Smoak. It’s done,” the nurse interrupted them as she stood up from her stool.

“Wait… already?” Felicity looked at her in disbelief, her eyes swapping from the grey-haired woman to her own arm where a little bandaid had been placed on the spot where she had gotten a shot.

“Yep. I promised you that you wouldn’t feel a thing, didn’t I?” With a gentle smile, Nurse Nancy gently patted her leg. “Doctor Jones will stop by in a couple of minutes, I’m sure you’ll be able to leave within the next hour.”

Still holding Oliver’s hand, Felicity let out a breath of relief. “I really didn’t feel the needle. How did she manage that?” she mumbled while watching Nurse Nancy pulling off the curtain that was around her bed.

“It’s her job and she’s probably very experienced at it. Not to mention you were too busy scolding me on my lack of manners to notice anything.” Lightly squeezing her hand, Oliver leaned towards her. “How are you feeling?”

“Better. The epipen already took care of the worst. I’m sure I’m still red in the face though, I’m all warm and phew it’s really hot in there, isn’t it?” 

“I’m so sorry, Felicity.”

“Hey, it’s not your fault OK? We’ll be able to leave soon enough and I’m sure we’ll make it just in time to the Backstone’s family ranch.”

“I still don’t understand how that could happen… I mean HR knows that you have a severe nut allergy, they always, always, triple-check those things when we have work meals planned ahead.”

“Now is not the time to dwell on that. I’m gonna need to change my clothes and you need to call the Backstones, just in case we run a bit late. We really had the most awful bad luck ever this week, haven’t we?” Business Felicity was back and already busy untying her hair. “Could you get me my bag so I can fix the mess-of-a-tomato I look like while we wait for the Doctor?” 

“You’re not a mess,” Oliver couldn’t help but chuckle as he took her in one more time, before leaving her alone. “And if it makes you feel better, I promise you’re much cuter than the average tomato.”

 



 

4 Days Earlier

“So I just got our new schedule.” Chewing on her pen, Felicity welcomed Oliver as he took a seat across from her. “We have the next three days free so we can plan your meeting with the Backstones. We are still supposed to be in Sacramento on Friday for a video conference with your father, though. Then while we’re heading to Sorora, the rest of the group will go to Fresno.”

“How can you even be so efficient this early?” Oliver asked her, rubbing his eyes.

“It’s 8AM, it’s not that early. And this,” she picked up her cup of coffee, “is my third espresso. That helps.” Taking a sip of coffee, she added, “I was thinking it might be a good idea to head straight away to Sacramento.”

Discreetly waving at a waiter, Oliver nodded absently. “I was thinking about that too. Maybe we could use our time there to dig in the City Hall’s archives or meet a counselor about potential tax cuts?”

“Great idea! With your last name, I should be able to get us an appointment, even on short notice!” Munching on a piece of toast, she quickly got up, already fishing her phone from her coat’s pocket just as a waiter finally approached their table. “Be right back.”

Oliver was savoring his own coffee, waiting for his omelet, when she walked back inside the small restaurant, at a much slower pace.

“That’s it. We have an appointment for Thursday afternoon! It’s quite amazing, all I had to do was say your name and," she paused and snapped her fingers, “bingo! Just like that, they managed to find someone to answer all of your questions regarding Californian tax cuts for cleaner energy sources!”.

Oliver let out a small smile. “QC supported the governor during his campaign.”

“That’s already one good thing out of the way. I had Dig on the phone yesterday night. Carly is doing better, he thanked me for the flowers I supposedly sent… do you have anything you’d like to share with the class about that?” she teased him, stealing a piece of toast from him.

“Surprisingly enough, I do have manners and I am sometimes able to make a phone call to a flower shop.”

“I would still keep that quiet. It could ruin your reputation if word got out Oliver Queen is a gentleman.”





“I can’t believe there is no Ipod dock.”

“Felicity, it’s a classic car, there were no Ipods when they were constructed,” Oliver patiently explained. They were currently driving south, having left their last hotel merely fifteen minutes before.

“What is stopping you from installing one? Or at least a decent radio?”

“… It. Is. A. Classic,” he calmly seethed through clenched teeth.

The depth of quiet anger he exerted was enough to draw a compromise from Felicity. “OK. Let’s make a deal. I stop bothering you with how outdated this car is…”

Oliver quickly turned his head to glare at her. “Don’t you dare insult my car!”

“… My bad. I know this is a sensitive topic. So I will stop bothering you with how your car is a…classic,” she placated him.

“And what am I supposed to do in return?” Oliver asked suspiciously, while checking in the mirror before making a turn to the left.

“Nothing, that’s the great part of the deal!” Felicity answered cheerfully while rummaging through her messenger bag.

Narrowing his eyes, Oliver tried to get a look at what she was doing.

“Eyes on the road Mister Oliver “Smooth” Queen!” she snapped at him.

Chuckling, he obeyed, relaxing in his seat. “Fine, fine. Don’t try to distract me though. I know you’re plotting something!”

Sighing, she raised her head from her bag. “I’m just going to use my laptop as our own personal MP3 player. I have some speakers in one of my tech bags but that will have to wait until our next stop.”

“Speakers? You have speakers? Who even travels with speakers?!” Oliver laughed in disbelief.

“IT Girls who don’t drive cars that were made almost a century ago, that’s who.”

“Hey! She’s not…”

She cut him off. “So what do you say? Bon Jovi or some good ol’ time rock n’roll? Wait… ‘she’? It’s a she? Oh My God… you named your car, didn’t you?!”

Oliver felt a slight and embarrassing blush creep on his cheeks.. “It’s… It’s not what it looks like.”

Felicity howled with laughter “I think it’s exactly what it looks like! Come on, spill the beans, Queen.”

“No.”

“Oh, come on! I won’t say anything!”

“No.”

“Fine. I’ll just ask Tommy,” she smirked.

“Then I’ll give him your phone number.”

Felicity gasped. “You’re not playing fair!”

“You’re nagging me!”

Felicity eye-sided him and let out a resigned sigh. “OK. You want to keep it a secret. I can accept that.”

“Thank God," Oliver mumbled under his breath.

“Is it Rosalie?”

“Felicity!”

She groaned. “OK, fine. But I get to pick the songs, then.”



2 hours later

“I told you this was a bad idea.”

“What?! Like it’s my fault?!”

“Felicity, I knew the way, you’re the one who insisted to use that shortcut your app was advising.” 

“There was nothing wrong with the shortcut! There is something wrong with your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, on the other hand!”

“And we wouldn’t be in the middle of nowhere if we had followed my plan to begin with!”

Felicity opened her mouth to talk but a quick glance at him convinced her to stay silent. The two of them were sitting in the unmoving car that they had managed to park under some trees, a bit outside of the road. The radiator had been overheating apparently, probably due to the unusually high temperatures in California. Fortunately, the hottest hours of the day were already behind them, which also meant that in a few hours, the sun would set. And they were indeed on a very deserted road, in the middle of nowhere.

Sighing, Felicity turned in her seat, facing Oliver. “what should we do? I have no signal and my battery is almost dead. Laptop is down as well.”

“I’ll just walk back to the last intersection. It seemed more inhabited.”

“… what and leave me all alone?!” Felicity protested.

“Are you up for the walk? It’s not close, I’d say it’s at least 5 miles away.”

She groaned, hitting the back of her head on her seat. “I’m not staying here alone.”

“I’m not comfortable with that idea either, to be honest.” Oliver opened his door and stood up, stretching his arms above his head. “Just take what’s necessary.”

She joined him at the back of the car, mentally listing the things she wasn’t comfortable leaving in the car. Laptop, tablet, cellphone, work documents, …

She handed him her messenger bag that he filled with some of her tech while she put the rest in her purse. See? That’s why women have big handbags. It can really be life-saving.

Oliver raised his head and looked worriedly at the sky. “There are some big clouds coming our way. Do you have a trench coat or something?” he asked while picking a thin jacket from his travel bag.

“No… I’ll just take my regular coat.”

With one last look at her belongings, she adjusted the strap of her bag on her shoulder. “I’m ready.”

Closing off the car’s truck, Oliver picked up the messenger bag and threw it across his shoulder “Let’s go, then.”

 

Thankfully they were both wearing comfortable shoes and were able to walk at a reasonable pace in a comfortable silence. They had left the car for about one hour when Felicity felt the first drop of water hitting her hair. Looking warily above her, she grimaced when she noticed the heavy clouds that were just above their heads. Oliver must have sensed it too and after throwing a quick glance at the sky, he shook his head “Come on, it might just be a few drops.”

“Oh no, you did not just say that,” Felicity said, horrified. “That’s the best way to make sure we’re gonna get drenched!”

As if the skies were just waiting for her words, all hell broke loose and torrents of water fell on them. Both stopped and stared at each other.

“I don’t want to appear like some kind of weather guru buuuuut… It seems like you’re the one who jinxed us,” Oliver pointed out, much to her annoyance.

“Shut up and walk,” Felicity groaned, accelerating the pace in a futile attempt to avoid the rain.

It took them another hour to finally reach what looked like the outlines of a small town. The rain had just stopped, leaving them cold and shivering despite the lingering heat. They both let out a sigh of relief, as the sun has set and they were walking in almost complete darkness. Oliver was the first one to spot the light of neons down the road they were currently following.

Pointing in the direction, he gently nudged Felicity’s shoulder. “Look. With a bit of luck, it might be a motel.”

It turned out that it wasn’t a motel but one of those shabby bars with some loud country music blasting out of the windows. It seemed to be quite full, but not in the way where there wasn’t any room. It was animated, loud, but also dry and warm. Once they finally made it there and stepped inside, they realized the place wasn’t as bad as they had feared. Sure there were people talking loudly, playing pool or darts. Loud laughing and glasses banging could be heard above the music but the place had a safe vibe and offered food which was a good start.

Not wasting any time, they quickly made their way to the main bar where the barman welcomed them with a long whistle.

“Look at you! You look like my dog when he takes his bath!”

“Yes, we… our car broke down and we had to walk here,” Oliver cleared his voice. “Any chance we could send a mechanic or something?”

“There’s old Joe but it’s already closed. If you don’t mind paying him an extra, he might do it, though.”

“Of course. Money won’t be a problem. Is there also a motel nearby where we could spend the night?”

“Eeeerrr…” the barman scratched his head. “I’d be surprised. It’s the festival and as you know, it’s pretty big, here. ‘M afraid everything is full miles around.”

“Festival? What kind of festival?” Felicity couldn’t help but ask, her curiosity piqued.

“Ye know, the Corn-Dog Festival! Every year we break the world record of the biggest corn-dog. People come from all over to see this! We make giant corn-dogs, we carve corn-dogs in redwood, we make corndog-shaped baskets… There’s also the corn-dog chain of love, where people form a big circle and you put the corndog in your mouth and you have to pass it to the person next to you… really? You never heard of it? That's weird.” The barman shrugged as Oliver and Felicity shared a look. Turning around, he shouted towards a group of women, “Louisa! Do you still have rooms?”

One of the women who were playing pool turned around. She was probably in her fifties, her hair still dark and was wearing heavy make-up. “Nope. We’re full. Why?”

“These two need a room for tonight. Car broke down.”

“You had a cancelation, though. Remember the Jonestons? They couldn’t make it this year because their grand-mother fell in her pole dancing class?”

“Oh right! We have one room left!”

“Wait… I thought this was a bar?” Felicity asked dumb-founded. She glanced at Oliver who seemed as confused as her.

“Yeah, it is but when the town gets crowded, we use the floor upstairs as a… Bed and Breakfast. Without the breakfast cause we’re usually too hungover.”

“Oooo… Kay. We’ll take it.”

“You’re gonna have to wait, I’ll have to put some sheets on and stuff, though.” Rubbing the back of his head, he picked up the towel he had on his shoulder and proceeded to slap one of the customers who was leaning on the bar. “Take care of the bar for me, will you? And get old Joe. Last time I saw him he was heading to the bathroom. This one,” he pointed towards Oliver, “needs a tow.”

“No need to look, son. I’m right here.” A man who looked more like Santa than a mechanic appeared behind them. “I’m Joe.” 

“Hi. Oliver. And this is Felicity,” Oliver replied, shaking his hand.

Joe quickly nodded. “So where is your car?”

‘It’s about five or six miles away, East. We left it underneath trees right after the bridge,” Oliver explained.

“OK. If you don’t mind paying the price, we’ll go right there and get it back. You’ll have to wait tomorrow for me to take a look at it, though.”

“Fair enough. As long as we can get our things and change into dry clothes, that’s more than enough for tonight,” Oliver smiled at him then turned towards Felicity. “Do you want to come with us or would you rather stay inside?”

Chewing her bottom lip, she considered her options. She didn’t really like the idea of being all alone in a bar, but the idea of going outside in the cold again was way too depressing. Besides, the bar was full and Oliver wouldn’t be gone for long. “I’ll stay here.”

“Don’t worry, sweetie. We’ll be quick and you’ll get him back to warm you up in no time.”

Felicity felt herself blush from head to toe at the implication. “Oh no… no no… it’s…”

“Don’t be shy, sweetie, it’s perfectly natural. Two young and healthy specimen like you!” Joe laughed loudly, lightly tapping her back.

“No, no, there won’t be any warm up between us tonight, we don’t… it’s not… I mean I’m not…” Felicity babbled, twisting her hands.

“What Felicity is trying to say is that she’s on her period,” Oliver chimed in innocently.

Felicity gaped at him in horror while Joe looked slightly uncomfortable. “Ah… Hum. I’ll go start the truck,” he eventually mumbled before leaving the both of them behind.

“How dare you?! I'm not even...”

He interrupted her, smirking. “I told you I hadn’t said my last word… Sweetie.” He lightly tapped her nose and with a last wink, followed Joe outside.

Chapter Text

December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) 

 

 

Oh, what a night
Late December, back in '63
What a very special time for me
As I remember, what a night

Oh, what a night
You know, I didn't even know her name
But I was never gonna be the same
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I 
I got a funny feeling when she walked in the room
Hey, my
As I recall, it ended much too soon

Oh, what a night
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me
She was everything I dreamed she'd be
Sweet surrender, what a night

And I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around and taking my body under
Oh, what a night

Oh, I 
Got a funny feeling when she walked in the room
Hey, my
As I recall, it ended much too soon

Oh, what a night
Why'd it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right
What a lady, what a night

Oh, I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinning my head around and taking my body under
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)
Oh, what a night (Do do do do do, do do do do)

 

 

 

 

It took them less than thirty minutes to find the car and bring it back with Joe’s truck to his garage. As Oliver stepped inside the bar for the second time that night, he frowned, looking through the crowd and trying to spot his assistant. It took him a minute or so to see her sitting in one of the small booths by herself, with an empty glass in front of her. Her hair had dried a little and was slightly curly, framing her make-up free face. Oliver stopped a few feet away from her, caught off guard by something he couldn’t exactly pin-point. It was only when she raised her head and noticed him that he finally understood: she had changed her clothes and was now wearing a slightly oversized neon pink hoodie.

“Oh God. ‘Corn-bitch looking for her corn-dog?!’” Oliver read the inscription on the sweat-shirt, completely failing at keeping his voice sarcastic as he couldn’t help but chuckle at how ridiculously un-Felicity this was.

“Shut up. That’s all they had and it was dry and warm!” she mumbled, throwing him a dirty look under her eyelashes.

Oliver laughed, taking a seat across from her. He had changed his clothes in Joe’s truck as soon as he got the chance. Rummaging through his pocket, he finally found his phone.

“Don’t even think about it, Queen,” Felicity threatened him, narrowing her eyes.

“Oh, come on. We need to keep a souvenir of that!” he lightly cursed when he realized his phone battery had died as well. “Damn it.”

Smirking, Felicity raised her hand, waving at one of the waitress. “Our room won’t be ready before another hour. Bob-the-barman told me he had to call a housekeeper.”

A cheerful brunette appeared, picking up the pen she had stuck in her hair and holding a notebook. “Hiya. What can I get you?”

“I’ll have another tequila sunrise,” Felicity answered.

Scribbling down, the waitress nodded, then turned towards Oliver. “And for… Wow. Oh. Wow.” Gazing at him, she let her eyes travel down his body. Oliver straightened on his seat, winking at her.

“And a double scotch for him” Felicity chirped, throwing him a warning look. The seductive smirk Oliver was already wearing slipped from his face under his assistant's cold stare.  OK, so no flirty, flirty then.

Oliver cleared his throat, amused by the fact she knew him so well. “Yes, please. No ice.”

“Hum… OK. I’ll get your drinks right away.” Winking at him, the waitress bouncingly walked back to the bar.

“You do know I shouldn’t let you drink alcohol, right?” Oliver teased Felicity while settling more comfortably on his seat.

Felicity sighed. “I think we both know that would go against your own code of honor. Keeping a girl from drinking, I mean.”

“Touché,” he shook his head, chuckling. “They didn’t card you? You look kind of young.”

“Honestly? I don’t think they really care as long as I’m not driving.” Playing with the straw in the empty glass that was still in front of her, she smiled. “it was actually the barman’s idea to get me an alcoholic drink, to warm me up. His words, not mine. Although he just gave me a tequila, but it tastes kinda bland.” She stopped herself, frowning. “What is it with men here so concerned about me being cold?”

Oliver opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted with the waitress arrival. She put their glasses on the table, smiling flirtingly at him. “There you go… if you need anything, just let me know, OK? My name is Cassie.”

Oliver huffed out a small laugh but, seeing Felicity's huff of annoyance, decided to not enter her game. “Thank you, Cassie. We will.”

He was just about to raise his glass to tilt it against Felicity’s when he noticed she was already gulping it down. “Cheers, I guess?” Taking a small sip of his own drink, he let the warming taste of it linger on his tongue before swallowing the burning liquid. “So, Joe told me it was probably just the radiator. He’ll fix it tomorrow but since he is taking part in one of their,” he made a vague gesture with his hand, “corn-dog activities, he won’t be able to do it in the morning. We might have to stay here a...”

The sound of loud aspiration coming from Felicity’s straw stopped him. She smacked her lips and put her glass back down, her cheeks noticeably pinker.

Probably noticing he was staring at her, slightly shocked, she asked defensively, “What?”

“Hum? Nothing?” he shifted on his seat when he saw her raising her hand to call the waitress again. “Maybe we should slow down on the tequila sunrise?”

Felicity swapped her head back at him. “Hey! I’m off duty, I’m cold, I’m wet and this thing is making me feel all warm and fuzzy. So, unless you have another way for me to feel all warm and fuzzy, I strongly suggest… Ugh. I didn’t mean… Not like that obviously. I’m not asking you,” she pointed her finger at him then back at herself, “to warm me up.”

Holding both of his hands in the air, he huffed out a laugh. “OK, OK. You’re right. It’s none of my business. And yes. We’re both off duty.” Raising his glass at her, he threw his head back, finishing the drink in one big gulp. “And I think we deserve a night to celebrate, don’t we?”

Grinning, she stood up holding out her hand. “Come on, they have darts in the backroom!”

Quirking an eyebrow, he snorted. “You mean you can play darts?”

“You’d be surprised all the things I can do with those little hands of mine, Mister Queen,” she smiled proudly. “Come on, playing alone is no fun!”

“Alright. I’ll humor you. But I kick ass at darts. I hope you’re not a sore loser.” Standing up, he proceeded to follow her lead to a quieter corner near the pool tables. They stopped by the bar area to order more drinks on their way as well as pick up the darts.

“Well, as the saying goes: Ladies first.”



They had just started their second round when they were joined by other patrons. They were all in their mid-thirties and soon introduced themselves. Danny and Sofia had been married for a couple of years and were enjoying a few days without their 3 year-old son who was spending the week with his grand-parents. There were also Fred and Victoria who had been best friend most of their lives. The six of them got along right away and the alcohol helping, it didn’t take long for them to quit playing darts and start a game of truth or dare. The bartender had stopped by their table one hour before to inform them that their room was ready but they had been having too much fun to actually leave.

“OK. My turn!” Felicity slurred, obviously trying to keep her balance on the high stool. “Oliver, truth or dare?”

“Dare,” Oliver answered, giggling, knowing he was probably just as intoxicated as his blonde companion. He was wearing a bright pink t-shirt with the same exact print as Felicity as a result of his first dare and one of the stupidest smiles Felicity had ever seen on her boss’s face - her words.

The rest of their table cheered as Felicity hummed quietly, eyes unfocused as she was trying to come up with a good idea.

“I daaaaaare you,” she said, pointing at him with her finger, “to sing at the karaoke.”

“That’s the worse you can do?” he snorted. “You’re losing your game, Smoak.”

“But you don’t get to pick the song, of course,” she smirked mischievously.

“Ooooh I like that! Let me get the list!!” Fred got up from his chair, being the most sober one of the group.

“Whatever, guys. I can handle this,” Oliver smiled confidently, putting his arm on the back of Felicity’s stool. “My turn, then. Felicity, truth or dare?”

Looking at him, she frowned, probably not liking the flicker of mischief in his eyes. “… truth?” she hesitantly said.

“Truth? OK,” Oliver lightly scratched his chin, smiling mischievously.

“Wait, no, no. I was asking myself outloud!”

“Tsss, Felicity, that’s not how it works,” Victoria scolded her. “You said truth, you have to go with it, now.”

“Yep, I’m sorry, sweetie, but it’s the rules,” Oliver gave her his most innocent grin.

“STOP! I need to go to the restrooms. I’m calling a time-out, guys,” Sofia squealed, already standing up. “Besides, we need to wait for Fred. Felicity, are you coming with me?”

“Yup. It’s a universal rule after all. Girls always go to the restroom together,” Felicity nodded, following her new friend to the other side of the bar. She was only a few steps away when she came back to her table, slipping her purse off her shoulder and handing it to Oliver. “can you hold this for me?”

“Sure.” Putting it on his lap, he took another drink of his glass while All Star by Smash Mouth started playing in the speakers.

“So, how long have you guys been together?” Danny asked, taking a sip of his beer.

“Felicity and I?” Oliver asked, surprised. He was just about to deny it when Victoria interrupted him.

“Yeah. You make a nice couple. Although to be honest, when I first saw you enter the bar I thought you were a weird combination. She looks sweet and adorable and you just have that… weird haircut.”

Oliver blinked. “… what’s wrong with my haircut?”

“Oh no offense, really. I’m a hairdresser and with a jaw like yours? You need short hair,” she nodded confidently. “Preferably a bit of scruff rather than this clean look. You kinda look like a rich frat boy to be honest.”

Taken aback, Oliver found himself at a loss of words for a couple of seconds.

“But now, I see it. You guys really complement each other,” Victoria smiled. “So well that Cassie didn’t even try once to give you her phone number and believe me… that one won’t even be stopped by a wedding ring.”

Oliver frowned, only realizing that, indeed, his night had been much more quiet than usual. He was used to flirting with women, who were just as good at hitting back on him but not once had he been approached that night, apart from Cassie’s first interaction. He couldn’t help but enjoy it, being finally able to act outside of what was expected of Oliver Queen, the charming gentleman. He had gotten the chance to know people he would have probably never met. People who knew nothing about him, his family, his legacy. People who weren’t expecting anything from him. People who weren’t with him for his reputation, but genuinely because they saw someone fun to hang with. He was wearing the stupidest shirt ever - secretly thankful Tommy would never see it –, was more than tipsy and the girl by his side was a real pain in the ass and miles away from the hot bomb that would usually accompany him. Yet, in that moment, everything felt surprisingly right. And that feeling was liberating. Not to mention, the possibilities he could see from this were endless. Especially when they involved pissing off the bubbly blonde who had been taking more and more place in his life.

“We’ve only been seeing each other for a month, actually,” he nodded. “I’m not proud to admit that at first…” Sighing, he avoided his friends’ looks playing with the zipper on Felicity’s purse.

“… that at first…?” Danny asked, leaning closer and putting his arms on the table.

“Argh. No, you’ll see me… us differently" Oliver shook his head, efficiently putting an embarrassed look on his face.

“Come on, dude! We already told you about that turkey baster last Thanksgiving, I don’t think you could top that!” Danny snorted.

“Yeah, we’re open-minded people around here, Oliver! You can tell us!” Victoria lightly tapped his arm, trying to encourage him to speak up.

“OK. I haven’t shared that with anyone, guess what they say about it being easier with people you don’t know is true…”

“It really is. I would know. I’m a hairdresser, believe me, there is nothing you could tell me that I haven’t heard!” Victoria laughed while Danny nodded.

“See, I like to think I’m an open-minded guy as well. But it took me a while to accept that Felicity… well… she’s different, you know,” Oliver admitted.

“We noticed. She seems to really get you!”

“No. I mean she is different,” Oliver insisted, looking at the other two.

“As in…?” Danny frowned, obviously not understanding where he was getting at.

“She hasn’t always been Felicity,” Oliver answered slowly, letting his words sink.

“…”

“… what do you mean? Like… she changed her name?” Victoria asked, intrigued.

“Her name. And… other things. Other… parts, I should say.” Avoiding their eyes, Oliver focused on his drink, trying to keep the smile off his face.

It took his companions a few seconds to understand what he was implying.

“She used to be a man?!” Danny gasped, the disbelief in his voice matching the expression on Victoria’s face.

“You’re kidding! No way! She really doesn’t look like a guy!”

“Yeah, even before she always looked somehow… feminine and delicate. Her surgeon did a fantastic job, though,” Oliver explained. “Please… just don’t mention it, OK? I shouldn’t even have told you but she’s still ashamed somehow to share that part and you really seem like good people… I just… I don’t know. I thought that you would accept it.”

“Of course! It must be so hard and it’s such a huge decision to… go on with… the whole… thing...” Danny trailed off, his face starting to show some signs of discomfort. “You mean… they cut… they… like, cut all of it? Is it all gone?”

“Yup. I wouldn’t be able to… I mean. It looks 100% real and natural, it’s impressive actually.”

“Wow,” Victoria breathed, taking a shaky sip of her glass.

“Yeah. Wow.” Danny squirmed on his seat. “I mean… I heard about amputations and phantom limb pain… Does she still feel it?” he grimaced, glancing down at his crotch. “Wait, don’t answer that, I don’t think I wanna know.”

 

***



It took Felicity and Sofia much longer than they had thought. “Phew. That was crazy out there, the line was so long we had to use the men restrooms,” Sofia giggled as they finally made it back to their table.

“Yeah. I used to do it all the time back in college,” Felicity laughed, drinking the last of her cocktail. Noticing Danny coughing awkwardly and Victoria averting her eyes, she wondered aloud, “What? What did I say?”

She turned to Oliver with a questioning look and was met with an innocent smile. Which, of course only convinced her something was up.

“Nothing. Nothing. Just… yeah of course. It’s not… surprising and… hum,” Danny answered, his eyes travelling down her body to glance at the apex of her thighs. What the hell??

“Hey, I didn’t know that there was also a painkiller vending machine in your restrooms guys! Makes sense for us and cramps but Felicity and I were laughing as to why a guy would need Ibuprofen? Oooooh!!! Maybe it’s for hermaphrodites! I heard some people were born with both reproductive organs! Although usually there’s a surgery when they’re young and they pick the most developed ones,” Sofia frowned. “It must be kinda weird to realize one day that you could have been a totally different person”

Danny’s head swapped back at his wife. “Heeeyy! I wonder where is Fred! He should be back with that… thing he went to get!” he said with forced enthusiasm.

“I think I saw him ordering more drinks at the bar,” Sofia answered, looking confusingly at her husband who was apparently trying to communicate silently with her.

“OK. What is going on?” Felicity asked, the embarrassed looks exchanged around the table not fooling her.

Oliver sighed. “It’s my fault. I told them, Felicity. And they understand, like I told you people would.”

She raised her eyebrows, her voice higher with the confusion. “They understand what?”

“Look, don’t be mad at him,” Danny tried to placate her. “He was right. It makes no difference to us, and Sofia will agree.”

“OK. What the hell is going on here? What will I agree with?!” Sofia asked, as confused as Felicity and probably even more frustrated than her.

“I told them about your changing sex a couple of months ago, Felicity,” Oliver looked at her, mischief in his eyes. Leaning, he murmured in her ear, “Payback.”

It took a few seconds for his words to register in her brain and she huffed out a laugh but quickly sobered up at the serious and compassionate faces surrounding her.

“Oh God, Felicity! I’m so sorry! I didn’t offend you, I hope?!” Sofia brought a hand to cover her mouth. “Danny always tells me I should think before I speak but honestly… you look nothing like a man!” Turning to her husband, she hit him on the chest, “and you, couldn’t you stop me?!”

Felicity stared at Oliver, mouth slightly agape. He grinned at her, bringing his arm around her shoulders. “Oh no, Sofia, don’t feel bad. Even I had a hard time with it, that’s what kept us apart to begin with. I’m not proud of that, but Felicity is such a forgiving person. Aren’t you, sweetie?”

Shaking her head and collecting her thoughts, Felicity cleared her throat. “Yeah. No offence, really, Sofia. You couldn’t have known. Like you said, I know I really don’t have any masculine features… “ she gulped, forcing the next word out of her mouth, “anymore.”

She put her hand on Oliver’s thigh, making sure it looked like a gesture of endearment while squeezing as hard as she could. Him shifting on his seat and trying to smoothly move away from her proved to her she was doing good enough.

Smiling sweetly at him, she explained. “It’s funny, because we actually met in the plastic surgeon’s waiting room. I was there for my pre-surgery check-up and Oliver was there for his micro-penis.”

Oliver choked on his beer and put it down on a table in a hurry, coughing.

“It’s actually hi-la-rious,” she continued, slapping his leg, “cause you know I was, in all modesty, pretty well-endowed and just skwiiiiiiik had it all cut cause I honestly didn’t really know what to with it.” She laughed outloud, patting Oliver’s thigh vigorously enough to leave a bruise, “and this one is… well… was, let’s be fair the surgery helped a bit,… you get the picture,” she giggled, waving her hand in the air.

“I’m gonna go get those drinks with Fred!” Danny scrambled to his feet.

Sofia and Victoria shared a look. “Wow. I would have never thought that Oliver… I mean you, Felicity, that you… You know.”

“Don’t worry, Sofia, we get the same surprise everytime. Don’t we, sweetie?”

Oliver cleared his throat, his eyes throwing daggers at her. “Yeah… everytime.”

“Theeeeere you go, guys. Round of triple shots for everyone!” Fred put the platter on the table, slightly avoiding looking in Oliver and Felicity’s direction, no doubt having been told about the revelations.

Felicity grabbed a glass and gulped it right away, reaching with her hand for the list of songs that Danny was holding in his hand. “I guess it’s time for a certain someone to deal with the consequences of their choices, don’t you think?”

Chapter Text

Last Friday Night

There's a stranger in my bed,
There's a pounding in my head
Glitter all over the room
Pink flamingos in the pool
I smell like a minibar
DJ's passed out in the yard
Barbie's on the barbeque
This a hickie or a bruise

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled
Damn

Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on tabletops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois
Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop
Op-oh-oh

This Friday night
Do it all again
This Friday night
Do it all again

Trying to connect the dots
Don't know what to tell my boss
Think the city towed my car
Chandelier is on the floor
Ripped my favorite party dress
Warrant's out for my arrest
Think I need a ginger ale
That was such an epic fail

Pictures of last night
Ended up online
I'm screwed
Oh well
It's a blacked out blur
But I'm pretty sure it ruled
Damn

Last Friday night
Yeah, we danced on table tops
And we took too many shots
Think we kissed but I forgot

Last Friday night
Yeah, we maxed our credit cards
And got kicked out of the bar
So we hit the boulevard

Last Friday night
We went streaking in the park
Skinny dipping in the dark
Then had a ménage à trois

Last Friday night
Yeah I think we broke the law
Always say we're gonna stop
Oh whoa oh

This Friday night
Do it all again
(Do it all again)
This Friday night
Do it all again
(Do it all again)
This Friday night


 

 


“You are the dancing queeeeeen

Young and sweeeeet only seventeeeeeeen

See that girl watch that sceeeeneeee

Diggiiiiiiing the dancing queeeeen


“Whaa…” Felicity humphed as the annoying song reached through her foggy brain. Forcing her eyes open, she tried to look for the source of the irritating noise but the light in the room made her shut them tightly and hiss in pain. “What the heck?”

Burying her head in her pillow, she desperately tried to gather her thoughts, scrambling for pieces of normalcy. Because this, the head-splitting migraine, the unknown room (the small glimpse she had had, had been enough to confirm that this wasn’t her room) were everything but normal for Felicity. Let’s think. I woke up yesterday morning, had breakfast. We took the road. Oh yeah… rain. And that bar. Drinks. Probably too many of those. WAY too many of those.

“I can’t believe I have a hangover,” she groaned, the sound muffled by the pillow. She knew the best thing would be to get up, drink as much water as possible and swallow a couple of aspirins but her body felt like it had been in a mud-fight with Ronda Rousey herself. As she willed herself into a more conscious state, she became more and more aware of the surrounding sounds. The quiet purring of the heater, some muffled voices from other rooms, a quiet snore, dogs barking in the distance. Instead of keeping her alert, those sounds were slowly but surely lulling her back to sleep. Just 5 more minutes. Just 5 more minutes. Just 5 more mi…

Felicity violently raised her head. A quiet snore?!

Blinking from the blinding sunlight that was barely muted by the curtains, she moaned miserably as she tried to identify the source of the noise. Pushing her hair from her face, she tentatively glimpsed to the right side of the bed. Frack.

She could only see a figure underneath the sheets... just like she was. Frack. Frack. Frack. Frackity Frack. The only body part visible was the back of a head. A dirty blonde kind of head. A very, very Oliver Queen kind of head.

Her heart beating wildly, Felicity tried to gather her thoughts and remember what had happened last night. Bar. There was a bar. Then he went to get the car. We had a couple of drinks, played darts. OK. Nothing inappropriate here.

As she was trying to smoothly get out of bed, moving inch by inch and being as quiet as possible, she heard him stir next to her. Stopping abruptly, she held her breath, not daring to move. Waking up next to her boss was already high on the list of the most embarrassing things she had ever done… having said boss waking up and seeing the same scene with his own eyes would have made it to the top. She let out a breath of relief when Oliver just grunted and shifted an arm underneath his pillow. Pulling back the duvet, she tiptoed across the room, hoping she could reach the small bathroom before he woke up. Unfortunately, just like in the rest of the building, the floor was made of old, cracking wood. Despite her best efforts, each step she was taking was accompanied by a loud crack. She was just about to open the door when the dreaded words reached her.

“Felicity? What are you doing in my room?” Oliver mumbled sleepily.

Pinching her lips, she closed her eyes for a second, summoning all her courage to actually turn back and face him.

“Hum. I think that this is… our room. Hence why I’m in here. With you.” Her eyes shifted across the room as she forbade herself to let them wander to him. Sleepy, ruffled hair Oliver was… something she wasn’t ready for.

Passing a tired hand over his face, he asked, “Did… did anything happen?”

Felicity couldn’t help but feel slightly offended. “I’d like to think you would remember if, indeed, anything had happened. Not to mention, we’re both still fully dressed. You even still have a shoe on.” She pointed with her chin to his left foot that was not covered by the blankets. Sure enough, his shoe was still on, while the other one was oddly laying next to his head.

He frowned, lifting the sheet to have a visual confirmation. “Thank God.”

Felicity raised her eyebrows. “Yeah don’t worry, your virtue is still safe… Whatever is left of it, anyway,” she added under her breath while searching through her handbag. Since he was awake, there was no need to be silent anymore. She finally found what she was looking for, holding the small bottle of pills as if it was her most treasured possession. “Aspirin?”

“Yeah, that’d be great.” Oliver sat up on the bed, having apparently as many difficulties as she had to deal with the light. He turned his back to the window, keeping his eyes down as much as he could while she quickly took a couple of pills, gulping them down with her bottle of water. She handed them to him, figuring that after sleeping in the same bed, they probably could share a bottle of water.

“Thanks.” His voice was raw and throaty, much deeper than what she was used to. He didn’t lose any time, taking the aspirins and swallowing them with a big sip. “Felicity?”

“Mmmh?” she replied, distracted by the movement of his throat.

“Why are you staring?” he asked as he laid back down again, holding a hand over his eyes.

She shook off her trance. “Oh, right. Sorry. I wasn’t staring by the way. Just making sure you wouldn’t… choke yourself to death.”

Oliver slowly raised the hand that was currently hiding half of his face and narrowed his eyes at her. “… what?”

“You know, with the pills and the swallowing… it would be bad. For my resume, I mean. To have my boss dead in my bed. Even if technically, it’s our bed. Not our bed, as in ours. Our bed as in… our bed. That we shared.” She pinched her lips, counting mentally while feeling her cheeks burning. “Platonically, obviously.”

“It’s already hard to keep up with you half of the time,” Oliver mumbled sleepily, “but I can’t even give it a try right now.”

“Right. I’m gonna go take a shower, then. Maybe it will clear my head.” She half walked half stumbled to the bathroom, letting a huge sigh of relief escape her lips as soon as she closed the door, resting on it for a few seconds. As if I needed any incentive for innuendos…

 

Enjoying the calm, Oliver distractedly listened to the sound of the shower. He had finally kicked out his one shoe and was checking his phone. He had 3 missed calls from Tommy, but no text. Since the two of them had a code that involved texting in case an emergency happened, he wasn’t too worried. He would just call him once his brain would feel less fuzzy. He had just put the phone back on the night stand when a piercing scream came from the bathroom. Caught off guard, it took him a couple of seconds to recognize his assistant’s voice yelling his name.

His heart missing a beat, he jumped to his feet, running to the bathroom door. He was about to knock it down when he directly collided with a very wet and half-naked Felicity.

“Why are you wet?” he blurted out, keeping his hands on her shoulders to help her find her balance.

As she was opening her mouth, with a furious look on her face, she seemed to register his question and took a step back. “I just took a shower, you idiot! You get kinda wet when you take a shower! That’s the principle of taking a shower!” she rolled her eyes, holding back the towel she had hurriedly draped around her.

“I thought something had happened, why did you scream like that?! I was going to bust the door open, I could have found you… in a compromising situation!” He blushed slightly with the last words, secretly hoping that she wouldn’t notice it without her glasses. And if a very vivid mental picture of Felicity underneath the shower popped inside his head, he did his best to push it back in a corner.

“You told everyone I used to be a man!” she shouted, slapping his shoulder.

Oliver looked blankly at her, trying to make sense of her words.

Felicity waited, probably seeing in his eyes that he was trying to rationalize her words.

“… what?” he finally asked, dumbfounded. He looked at her as if she had grown an extra head then let his eyes wander curiously over her body. Body that was still barely covered by a white towel that was stopping way too high on her legs. And damn it, did she have legs… long, toned,… perfect.

“I never noticed you had legs,” he blurted out, unable to stop himself.

Felicity paused, her outrage seemingly forgotten for a moment. “Well, yes I do. And while we’re at it, I also have a face which is way up north!” she snapped her fingers in front of his eyes, effectively getting his attention.

Oliver shook his head, trying to gather his thoughts. “… you used to be a man?” he finally asked incredulously. His eyes travelled back south again, to her perfect legs and there was no way she could have been a man, she had a tiny waist and-

Felicity groaned, interrupting his thoughts. “UGH. No! Of course not!!”

Oliver snorted, trying very hard to keep his eyes from wandering again. “Now why would I tell them that if it’s not…” he stopped in the middle of his words when a very blurry memory made him smile smugly. “I got you back.”

Huffing, she threw her arms in the air. “Yay, congrats!”

She threw him one last exasperated look as she moved past him. “Shower is all yours”.

 

***

Felicity heard the bathroom door close one more and wasted no time, quickly finding some comfortable clothes she could wear and getting dressed as fast as possible. We’ve had way too much close encounters in the last 24 hours to add that one on the list. As she was putting her socks on, she let her mind wander back to last night. She now remembered clearly what Oliver had done while she had been in the bathroom with Sofia. Oh God. I patted his leg. I will never drink tequila with my boss ever again. She was tying her left shoe when she let out a sound of surprise as her brain came up with what she had told their new friends. “Oh.”

Giggling, she put her foot down and sat on the bed, proceeding to comb her hair

“And he thinks he got me… now that’s cute,” she said outloud. Wonder how long it’s going to take him to remember that part…

She distractedly listened to the sound of the shower that stopped after 10 minutes, tidying the room and going through her bags. Once Oliver stepped inside the room, she was already busy with her tablet in hand, going through the schedule she had planned for them. Obviously she was going to have to change all of it, with them being stuck in… wherever they were.

“Hum, Felicity?” Oliver cleared his throat.

“Yeah?” she raised her head, and felt herself blushing slightly with the sight in front of her. He just had wrapped a towel around his waist, his hair was still damp and a few drops were slowly making their way on his shoulders, travelling down his…

“Felicity?” Oliver slightly coughed.

She snapped out of it, mentally cursing herself. “Yeah, sorry. What?”

“Could you… could you just turn over so I can change? I mean… I have nothing underneath,” he explained, waving towards the lower side of his body.

Smirking, Felicity mumbled, “not exactly flash news to me…” while she obediently turned her back to him to give him enough privacy to get dressed. 

“What was that?” he asked her while moving across the room. The sound of a zipper was heard, followed by the ruffle of some fabrics.

“Nothing,” she replied, trying to sound as neutral as possible, but miserably failing.

“Felicity, I can hear the smile in your voice,” he gently scolded her. “You can turn.”

“It’s because I’m naturally cheerful,” she smiled at him innocently, knowing she shouldn't be having that much fun to his expense... but then again... he had started it.

He quirked an eyebrow at her as he picked up his shoes to put them on. “I can’t really deny that… but I know you well enough to tell when you’re hiding something from me. Spill the beans, Smoak.”

“What if I told you I’d rather it was a surprise?” she held her index up.

He was just about to push it when his ringtone interrupted him. “We’re not done,” he told her as he went to answer his phone.

“Tommy! Sorry, I was just about to call you!”

Felicity couldn’t hear what the other man said, but she was close enough to hear that he was talking rather loudly. Standing up, she gestured towards the bathroom and mouthed to Oliver, “I’m gonna dry my hair”.



He silently nodded at her, turning his attention back to his best friend.

“… OK slow down. I don’t understand a thing you just said.”

“I said: Dude… What the fuck happened last night?” Tommy articulated, sounding incredulous.

“… you were there too?” Oliver asked, trying to search through his still very fuzzy memory.

“Of course not, what would I do in… wherever the hell you are! I’m talking about the video and the pictures you sent me!” his best friend explained, obviously trying to be as patient as possible.

“… pictures and videos?” Oliver sat down on the bed, feeling that if Tommy Merlyn himself sounded incredulous, he was in for a ride. “I don’t know. I barely remember anything myself. Our car broke down, we had a couple of drinks with a few other patrons. Played darts. Truth or dare…” he recalled, mentally going through the few mental pictures he had left.

“Anything to say about that sweatshirt of yours?”

“What’s wrong with my sweatshirt?” Oliver looked down at the clothes he was currently wearing.

“Not that one, dimwit! Well I sure as hell hope you’re not wearing it again because I’m not sure our friendship could ever recover from that.”

Oliver stood up and reached the stack of dirty clothes he had dumped near the door. Quickly going through them, he finally noticed the pink sweat shirt he had been wearing. “What the… Corn-bitch?!”

“Exactly!” Tommy took a deep breath, “please, tell me you were drunk and it was a dare.”

“Of course it was!”

“Ok. I can work with that. Although, corn-bitch, dude…” Sighing, he continued, “I’m still opening the files you sent me by the way."

“I never send you pictures or anything when I’m drunk,” Oliver frowned.

“Well I sure got them so you must have picked a new habit.”

Both men stopped at the same time as they both realized. “Felicity!”

Tommy howled with laughter. “I knew she had it in her!”

"That bloody woman!" Groaning loudly, Oliver stomped his way to the small bathroom, knocking heavily on the door. "Felicity!"

A sheepish Felicity opened the door, grimacing. “I take it you remember?”

Not letting him answer, she continued while twisting her hands, “it’s your fault, though. Hadn’t you said that, I would have never ever felt the need to overbid you.”

“But that’s a step too far! It’s my privacy!” he shouted, outraged by the fact she would send pictures of him while he was inebriated.

“Just like it’s mine!” she shouted back. “If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen Oliver!!”

“Who else knows apart Tommy?” he asked, breathing through his nose and willing himself to stay calm.

“Tommy knows?” she asked, her mouth opening in a little O of surprise.

“Of course! Oh my God… who else knows too?!”

“No one knows apart from Sofia, Fred, Danny and Victoria.” She looked at him, confusion written all over her face. None of what she was saying was making sense to him and it was obvious from her face that she wasn’t understanding him any better. “I don’t even get why you’re so mad since Tommy probably knows it’s not true anyway.” Squaring her shoulders, she faced him one last time. “Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna go finish getting ready and then you will take me out for breakfast.”

Oliver stood there, watching her retreat, when he remembered his best friend was still on hold. “Felicity, this is not over!” he shouted at the closed door.

“Yeah, Tommy, sorry about that.”

“Are you kidding me? I was just about to make some popcorn.”

Oliver rolled his eyes, picturing him laying back on his office chair, his feet on the desk.

“Come on, dude, let her get ready. She’s clearly not the kind of girl you want to piss off,” Tommy paused. “Oh no. No. You didn’t!”

“What?” Oliver asked, alarmed and wondering what else could possibly happen to him.

“You’re in the same room! You and Felicity…?”

“Wait, no! No, of course not! Nothing happened. I told you, the car broke down, it was super late, they only had this one room available,…”

“You do know that this sounds like the pitch of a very bad rom-com, right?”

“Shut up. It’s true. All rooms are rented because of that corn-dog festival. Hence the sweat shirt I was wearing, by the way,” Oliver explained, trying to stay as calm as possible.

“Oh. Oh. At least there is a reasonable explanation for that. Is that… is that…” Tommy mumbled to himself while pressing a few keys on what sounded like his keyboard. “A MECHANICAL BULL?? Dude, what the fuck?! We had… We had a code!! You rode a mechanical bull and you let someone take pictures of that?!”

“I’m gonna kill her.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I promise you: yes, I am.”

“Oliver, no you won’t. Want to know why?”

Oliver sighed. “I swear to God if you say it’s because her ass is like the Sistine Chapel of bottoms, I’m gonna…”

“No. It’s because she’s riding the bull with you.”

Oliver paused.

“Ollie? You’re still here?”

“… yeah,” he cleared his throat, hoping clearing his head would be just as simple. “So she didn’t take that pic.”

“Obviously, not. I hate to say this to you, mate, but… have you considered the fact that maybe… you really are the one who sent them?”

Groaning, Oliver sat down on the bed, hiding his head in his hands and letting the phone on speakers. “Is there anything else I should know about?”

“Apart from the fact that I would really like to know why you serenaded your assistant at the karaoke?”

“Oh God. Tell me you’re lying.” Although, the souvenir of one of his last dares made him realize that Tommy was probably saying the truth.

“I wish… my poor ears are never gonna get over that. They are scarred for life. And you know how much ladies like my ears.”

“OK. Tommy, I think I’ll call you back later, unless there’s anything else?” Oliver tried to gather his thoughts and decided he really needed coffee before tackling whatever had happened the night before.

“Well, I would also really like to know what the hell you were doing in bed with a goat,” Tommy asked, partly disgusted, partly horrified and partly… intrigued.

“WHAT?!”

“Nah, that’s just me messing with you,” his best friend laughed out loud. “But the fact that you freaked out just proves it could have happened. My sweet Miss Felicity is a hell of a party girl, who would have thought!”

“That’s… not funny, Merlyn. Not funny at all,” Oliver fumed, wishing he could find a way to travel back in time and ignore Felicity’s stupid app that had led them to the middle of nowhere.

“I promise you, one day… I’ll be telling this story and it will make you laugh,” Tommy softly said. “But apparently, not today. Say hi to Miss Felicity for me, and good luck!”

Oliver didn’t have time to reply as Tommy hung up the phone directly. He picked up the phone once more, hesitating. There were apparently pictures and at least one video on the device but he couldn’t bring himself to watch them yet. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t even hear Felicity approaching him. “I didn’t mean to spy on you but you were talking pretty loud… I take it there is some… forensic evidence or something about last night?”

She was chewing her thumb, looking at him hesitantly. She had put her coat on, waiting for him to do the same. As he stood up and picked up his jacket, he frowned and turned towards her. “Are you going to tell me what you thought Tommy knew? The thing that only… Sofia and God knows their names, knew?”

She took a short breath, her eyes shifting. "It’s nothing, really. We should just go have breakfast. We need to eat something.”

“Felicity…”

“I promise. It’s a tiny, little thing!” she reassured him while hurrying him through the door.

As he followed her, her words kept replaying in his head as if they were trying to tell him something. He was just opening the door that led back to the bar when he stopped, causing her to bump into him. “You told them I have a WHAT?!”

Chapter Text

They were both sitting at a table near a window, in a small little café that was right across the bar. Felicity was nursing her cup of coffee between her hands, trying to warm her fingers while Oliver was literally pouting, arms crossed, staring stubbornly at the window.

Sighing, she put her cup down. “Now, come on. Be fair. You looked for it.”

He pointedly ignored her.

Felicity tried to placate him. “Oliver! You told them I was a man. A man! I should be the one offended! You only have to go pee with one of these guys and they’ll know right away that your penis is…” she fumbled with her words. “Very nice. Plus-sized penis, actually.” The familiar blush invaded her cheeks as she replayed her words... Oh God, Not again. Stop. Commenting. On. Your. Boss. Penis.

Oliver's mouth twitched as he obviously tried to bite back a smile. “A very nice penis? Why, thank you, Miss Smoak.”

She smiled at him and lightly tilted her head. “You know what I mean. And you also know you don’t really have the right to be mad at me.”

Sighing, he picked up his cup of coffee. “I know. Let’s just… forget all about it. We’re going to finish our meal, then stop at Joe’s garage to see how things are working and keep our fingers crossed that we will be able to leave tomorrow morning.”

“Good plan. I like that plan,” Felicity nodded.

“… There still are pictures and videos, apparently,” Oliver lightly scratched his ear, shifting on his seat.

“Right.” Felicity pressed her lips together, nodding her head. “Ok so we’re still finishing breakfast, then analyzing the evidence. Then we forget all about it. Deal?”

“Deal,” Oliver agreed while shoving a huge fork of scrambled eggs in his mouth. Felicity was already done, her plate having been cleared by a busboy a couple of minutes ago. She had only been able to stomach a banana and a slice of buttered toast, but Oliver was obviously much more experienced when it came to dealing with a hangover.

She was currently going through their emails, which were the usual work-related notes. Memos about upcoming meetings, employees and consultants asking for an appointment. She frowned when she spotted an email from Walter concerning the gas explosion. Clicking it open, she quickly read the first few sentences. It was apparently a preliminary conclusion on the causes of the accident.

“What’s wrong?” Oliver asked her, having apparently noticed the serious expression on her face.

“Walter sent us a copy of the new details they have about the explosion. Your father will apparently tell us more about it during the conference, but so far everything seems to confirm it was man-made.”

“… You mean it’s arson?” he put his fork down, pushing his plate away while bringing his chair closer to hers to have a better look at the screen.

“They still don’t know for sure. But the ground zero area presents abnormalities, according to the firefighters first report. It could have been arson or an honest mistake. Or even neglect of maintenance,” Felicity explained, pointing to the screen as she read.

Oliver sighed. “Do they have any idea how long the investigation could take?”

“No. Honestly, apart from that there isn’t anything new. All he says is that we will probably have more info during the video call with your father,” she shrugged, closing the email. “I received a few alerts concerning QC’s stock shares, though.”

“The ones that are slowly being bought off?”

“Yep. Still the same pattern. I just… I have found no connection whatsoever with another company that could be big enough to try to take over QC. There aren’t that many that could do it in the first place, so that list was pretty small. Yet… nothing that can tie any of them with Isabel Rochev.” She tapped her fingers on the table, frustrated. “I know there is something, I just don’t know how to dig it up!”

“What kind of companies did you look into?” Oliver inquired as he put his arm on the table and rested his head on his closed fist.

“The usual. Kord Industries, Wayne Enterprises,… The top ten of the country.”

Oliver tilted his head, looking at her. “What if it’s not in the country?”

Felicity’s fingers stopped abruptly over the keyboard as she slowly turned towards him. “What do you mean?”

“What if Isabel is working for a company that is not based within the United States? Could you still find information about them?”

“Oh my God. Of course!” she slapped her forehead. “She wasn’t born in the US, was she? And she and your father just got back from…”

“Russia!” they both said in unison.

“I can’t believe I didn’t even think of this. I mean she has been living in the USA ever since she was a toddler, but that doesn’t mean…” she trailed off while typing on her keyboard. “Bingo.”

Oliver took a close look at the screen where a younger Isabel was staring blankly at him.

“She has a Russian passport?”

“Yep.” Pressing a few more keys, she scrolled down the page which was, unfortunately, in Russian. “I suppose you don’t speak Russian?”

“Nope,” he shook his head. “but Raisa could help us.”

“Oh God. Tell me it’s not one of your leggy model girlfriends,” Felicity rolled her eyes. Trust Oliver Queen to have a Russian girl in his repertoire.

He glared at her. “Raisa is our governess. She raised me.”

“Oh. My bad.” 

“Anyway. She is Russian. She could translate this for us. She is more than trustworthy.”

“Yeah, we could do that but… wait a second...” Frowning, Felicity scrolled back up to the top of the page. “I can’t read Russian but… they use Arabic numbers, just like we do.”

“And how is that helpful?” Oliver trailed off, trying to see where this could lead them.

“Well, this Isabel Rochev might be exactly the same as our Isabel Rochev. But those numbers? They represent her date of birth. And it’s not the same one. That’s why I never found anything about Russia concerning her! Officially, they are not the same person.”

“You mean she has three identities, if we count the other one you already found out about? Stacy whatever?”

“Yes. How doesn’t she get confused?” Felicity raised her eyebrows. “I can barely keep up with myself as it is. And I just have one identity.”

“Can you work your magic and find out if there’s any connection between the Russian Isabel and a possible hostile take-over from a Russian company?”

“Yeah, but that takes… argh. I can’t do this now on public wifi. I was testing my limits with the Russian Passport database, but that kind of research is just too big.” Chewing her lower lip, she groaned, “I hate doing this, but it will really have to wait until I get better settings.”

Oliver comfortingly pressed her shoulder. “You’ve already done more than I thought was possible. We have a new lead; we’ll just focus on that as soon as we’re back at the office. Maybe we should ask Dig, he could help us?”

“Good idea! Who knows, he might have heard of something.” Felicity picked up her own cellphone, already texting him with the new information they had found. Her shoulders slumped a bit when she was done. “I guess all we have to do now is wait?”

Oliver huffed out a laugh. “Yeah. You don’t like that, do you?”

“No. I hate mysteries. They need to be solved,” she grumbled as she put her cellphone back in her bag.

“Speaking of mysteries…” Oliver cleared his throat. “Are you ready to find out what we did last night?”

Felicity moaned, dropping her head on the table. “Do we have to?”

“Would you rather have Tommy tease you about it until one of you dies?”

“Well, if he really plans on teasing me with that, his day will probably come pretty soon,” she mumbled. “But you’re right. We do need to find out.” She slowly raised her head and offered her hand.

Oliver stared at her, eyes moving from her hand to her face.

Rolling her eyes, she sighed. “Your phone!”

“Oh!” grabbing his jacket, he fished his cellphone from his pocket and handed it to her. Plugging it with her usb cable, she launched it so whatever content was inside of it would show on the laptop screen.

Taking a deep breath, she looked at him. “Ready?”

“Ready,” he nodded grimly, squaring his shoulders.

Wincing, she clicked on the picture files, secretly hoping there was nothing inappropriate hiding in them.

The first picture was innocent enough. Felicity was laughing, holding a dart in her hand, obviously trying to aim. The dreadful pink sweatshirt was clearly visible. Her cheeks were pink and her hair was in a messy bun.

Oliver smiled, keeping her from clicking on the next picture. “I remember that. We had just started playing. Our phones were still charging.”

“And I kicked your ass in the first game!” she snapped her fingers at him. “How could I forget about that?!”

“Maybe because I slaughtered yours in the next ones,” he snorted.

“That’s only because I was way too drunk. Also… we now know who started this whole picture thing.” She narrowed her eyes at him and clicked on the screen.

The next couple of pictures were more or less the same. Some were of Oliver playing, others of Felicity. There was also one photograph, taken by Victoria, where Oliver had his arm around her shoulders and was munching on a straw that suspiciously looked like the ones Felicity had had with her tequila sunrises. Both of them were looking at Fred who was mostly out of frame.

“Oh no,” Oliver whispered.

“What?” she asked worriedly, scrutinizing her screen but seeing nothing embarrassing.

“That’s when he dared you to ride the bull.”

“…”

“Do you…”

“Yeah, I remember now,” she coughed, hiding her embarrassment. “Thank you for coming with me, by the way.”

“You really didn’t want to go,” he laughed slightly. “I guess the picture we sent Tommy is next?”

“Probably. It can’t be that bad, right? I mean, he didn’t say anything other than we were both on it, right? He didn’t mention any… naked body parts, right?” Felicity asked, trying to play it light but miserably failing as her hands started twisting again.

He quirked an eyebrow. “… no. Knowing him, he would have definitely mentioned it if there had been naked body parts… why would there be in the first place?” Oliver looked at her weirdly. “Felicity Smoak… have you done bad, bad things on a mechanical bull before? Is that why you didn’t want to ride it in the first place?”

Pinching her lips, she vehemently shook her head, avoiding his eyes.

Oliver’s grin grew the size of Texas. “Whenever we play Truth or Dare again, I can guarantee you that question will be the first one I ask.”

“Yeah, that won’t be happening. Ever.” She glared at him then turned her attention to her laptop once more. The next few pictures were all the same kind. They were rather innocent, slightly embarrassing but nothing that could cause any harm.

“Phew. That was not as bad as I had feared,” Felicity sighed with relief, sitting back on her chair in a much more relaxed stance. Smirking, she threw him a look. “Ready to face your karaoke show?”

Oliver shut his eyes just as a few memories surfaced. “I don’t think so, if it’s anything like what I remember.”

“Yeah… I’m not waiting any longer to watch this anyway. Did I pick the song? I have no recollection of that.” Felicity checked if the sound was at a reasonable volume while Oliver explained, “I don’t think so. You grabbed the list but Fred said he already had made the perfect pick.”

The two of them stared at the screen as a clearly inebriated Oliver made his way onto the small stage under a chorus of cat calls and whistles. As the first notes started, Felicity gasped, holding a hand to her heart while Oliver groaned, tilting his head backwards and staring at the ceiling. “Yeah… it’s exactly like what I remember”

Now I had the time of my life

No I never felt this way before


Pausing the video, Felicity exclaimed. “You’re not bad. Not bad at all!” Trying to keep a straight face, she lost the battle as a smile spread her lips so wide it actually started to hurt. Pressing play again, she muffled a giggle behind her hand. Oliver Queen was singing a song from Dirty Dancing and from what she was seeing… he didn’t even need to read the lyrics. “Oh my… You know that song by heart!”

“Shut up. It’s one of Thea’s favorite movies, OK?” Oliver grumbled. As soon as he had seen himself grab the mic, he had lowered his head, holding a hand above his eyebrows.  “Not to mention, in case you forgot… it’s a duo,” he smirked when her humorous smile turned into an expression of horror as a woman’s voice could be heard on the recording. Holding her own mic with two hands, Felicity joined the on-stage Oliver enthusiastically – and slightly off-key - on the second verse under the small crowd’s cheers. She stumbled over her own feet when Oliver held out his hand for her to rejoin him in a pirouette but managed to get her bearings just in time for the chorus, Oliver’s arm firmly around her waist to help her stay up.

I had the time of my life

No I never felt this way before

Yes I swear it’s the truth

And I owe it all to you

“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God Oh God Oh God,” Felicity repeated over and over as her eyes stayed glued to the screen, unable to press stop as she was witnessing herself trying to replay the choreography of Dirty Dancing. “Did you just…” she laughed nervously, glancing at him. “Did you just ‘hey baby!’ me? And try to glide on your knees like Patrick Swayze?”

His eyes on the screen, he frowned, head tipping on the side, as the onscreen Felicity was doing weird moves with her arms. “At least I’m not the one who gave up the choreography and went with La Macarena instead.”

“This is a nightmare. That’s why I don’t remember anything. My memory blocked it to preserve my sanity.” Letting out a shaky breath, she added, “why are you getting off that stage?! I swear to God, Queen, if you left me all alone up there, I’m gonna… Oh. Ooooh! That’s why I hurt everywhere!” Understanding drew upon her as she saw herself trotting her way to Oliver who was waiting for her, arms outreached.

Oliver grimaced. “That’s not gonna end up… Yep.” As Felicity attempted to jump in his waiting arms, no doubt to reproduce the famous lift, Oliver tripped and both stumbled across a few patrons, landing on a table in a mix of limbs while the music was still playing. Having ended on top of Oliver, Felicity howled with hysterical laughter, losing her balance and falling backwards on the only chair that had survived their arrival, then let herself fall on the floor, holding her sides as the laughter fit slowly subsided into hiccups. Oliver was gazing down at her, still perched on the table, protectively holding her glasses in his hand, a shit-eating grin on his face.

He shifted uncomfortably on his chair. That moment, somehow, had been perfectly engraved in his memory. So perfectly that he actually hadn’t believed it had happened, in the middle of all the blurry images he had kept from the night. Even now, he couldn’t make sense of it. Why, of all the things that had happened that night, had his brain chosen to remember that little scene so perfectly? He had never seen Felicity so carefree, and hadn’t been able to tear his eyes off of her. The video finally ended as he held his arms out to help her back on her feet, and neither of them broke the embrace, gazing into each other eyes as their laughter slowly died. Oliver delicately put her glasses back on, tucking her hair behind her ears.  

Neither of them broke the sudden silence for a couple of seconds, still staring at the now empty screen.

“I say we stick to the plan,” Felicity nodded her head, avoiding his eyes.

“The plan?”

“Yeah. We saw the evidence and now we forget all about it.”

“It’s a really good plan,” Oliver confirmed, nodding his head enthusiastically. “I like that plan.”

Chapter Text

 

 

 

"Smile"

 

 

You're better than the best
I'm lucky just to linger in your light
Cooler than the flip-side of my pillow (that's right)
Completely unaware
Nothing can compare to where you send me
It lets me know that it's okay (yeah, it's okay)
And the moments when my good times start to fade

[Chorus:]
You make me smile like the sun,
Fall outta bed
Sing like a bird,
Dizzy in my head
Spin like a record,
Crazy on a Sunday night
You make me dance like a fool,
Forget how to breathe
Shine like gold,
Buzz like a bee
Just the thought of you can drive me wild
Oh, you make me smile

Even when you're gone
Somehow you come along
Just like a flower poking through the sidewalk crack
And just like that
You steal away the rain
And just like that

[Chorus]

Don't know how I lived without you
'Cause every time that I get around you
I see the best of me inside your eyes
You make me smile

You make me dance like a fool,
Forget how to breathe
Shine like gold,
Buzz like a bee
Just the thought of you can drive me wild
Oh, you make me smile

 

 

 

It turned out that Joe would only need a couple of hours to fix Oliver’s car. Leaving in the late afternoon was out of the question though as they didn’t want to have to drive by night if they could avoid it. They would just leave the next morning, which left them enough time to make it to Sacramento for Oliver’s appointment with one of the counselors as well as the conference call with Robert Queen.

They were just leaving the garage when they ran into Victoria and Fred whose arms were full of decorations and flags.

“There you are! We’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

Oliver and Felicity looked at each other, confused.

“The mini-golf tournament!” Victoria hissed. “Tell me you didn’t forget! You guys signed in yesterday!”

“You have got to be kidding me…” Oliver grumbled, passing a tired hand over his face. “Look, Victoria, we might have had too much to drink last night and…”

“Non-sense, we all had too much to drink. Besides, Joe already told me you wouldn’t be able to leave today.”

Felicity opened her mouth but was cut off by Fred. “Come on, guys. It’s the first time we are doing one of those, we need as many participants as possible. It will be fun!”

“I understand but we have work to do…” Oliver trailed off until Felicity poked his arm.

“I never took part in a mini-golf tournament…” she whispered, pouting and playing with her earring.

Sighing, he shook his head. “Fine." He rolled his eyes when Felicity let out a squeal of delight. "We’re in.”

“Perfect! It starts in one hour, which gives you plenty of time to come to the salon,” Victoria beamed at him.

“The salon?” Felicity asked as confusion made her scrunch her nose.

“Yeah. Remember Oliver’s last bet?” Fred asked innocently.

Searching her memory, Felicity mumbled, “… No. I remember you’re a hairdresser, hence the salon, but what does it have to do with… Oh. Oh yes. Now I remember.” Smiling wildly, she turned to Oliver who held up a hand.

“No. I was drunk and you’re not supposed to have dares that happen once you sober up.” He shook his head, crossing his arms.

“Hey! A dare is a dare! You said you’d let her cut your hair, then let her cut your hair!” Felicity joined her new friends, facing Oliver.

“Not to mention… your haircut hurts me. In my soul.” Victoria bit her lips, lightly shaking her head as her eyes landed on his hair.

“There is nothing wrong with my hair!” Oliver huffed out. “Felicity, tell them!”

Felicity averted his eyes, focusing on a pigeon that was currently eating some bread crumbs. “Mmmh?”

“Felicity!”

She winced. “Oliver. You are a very attractive man. But this haircut makes you look like Ted Bundy.” She sighed, putting a comforting hand on his arm. “It won’t take long, right Victoria?”

“Of course not! 30 minutes and it will be done, I promise,” Victoria smiled reassuringly at him. “Meet me there in 15 minutes? Just walk down the street, it’s on this side of the road. Can’t miss it, it’s the only beauty salon.”

“Please. I can’t… I can’t go to a beauty salon,” Oliver almost pleaded.

“Fine. We’re gonna say it’s a barber shop mostly frequented by middle-aged women,” Victoria rolled her eyes as she turned around. “We need to drop these but I’ll be there in time, don’t worry!”

“Take your time, really, there’s no rush!” Oliver shouted as they watched the pair walk away. He folded his arms once more as he faced Felicity. “Thank you so much for your support and loyalty, by the way.”

“Hey! Would you rather I lied to you?”

“… I wouldn’t be offended if you had lied about this. Ted Bundy, really?”

“It’s just hair, I’m sure it’s going to look great!” Felicity tried to cheer him up.

“We have a very important meeting, in case you forgot.”

“Oliver, you’re a guy. If you really don’t like it, all you have to do is ask her to shave it off.” Felicity put her hands on her hips. “Aren’t you a whiny little boy when you’re hungover!”

Oliver gasped. “Now I’d love to see how you would react if someone wanted to cut your hair without you having a say at it!”

“In case you didn’t notice, I wear it in a ponytail, so I think I could survive having a couple of inches less,” she dryly said as she grabbed his arm to get him to walk. “Come on, let’s go.”

He begrudgingly followed her, staying a few feet behind and mumbling on about how Thea loved to play with his hair.

“Your little sister is almost a teenager. Believe me… soon enough she’s going to want to play with other boys.”

“Ewww! Don’t… I don’t want to hear that about my baby sister!”

“Then be a man and stop complaining,” Felicity answered distractedly as she stopped to look at a window’s shop, her eyes lingering on a cute pair of panda flats. Shaking her head, she resumed her walking while Oliver sped up to be at her side.

“Sooo… you think I’m attractive?” he lightly said, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“What makes you say that?” Felicity avoided answering, trying to walk faster but failing to get any advance on him. Damn him and his long legs.

“You said so yourself, not five minutes ago,” he smirked.

“I was trying to soften the blow, Oliver.” She stopped abruptly on the sidewalk. “Oh. We’re here.”

Oliver groaned. “This is a nightmare…”

“I think you’re going to fit in perfectly,” Felicity said, trying to keep from smiling. The whole place was what most people would expect from a provincial beauty salon. The big window was framed with old-fashioned curtains and the clientele was very middle-aged. There were two women under heating helmets while another one was getting curlers.

“Please, Felicity. I promise you I will go to my barber’s as soon as we go back to Starling,” Oliver pleaded with her, a look of panic on his face.

“What’s wrong, Oliver? Don’t tell me you stopped enjoying women’s company? I had to endure it when you gave me the tour of the company on my first day, remember? Consider this as karma biting you in the ass,” she smiled sweetly, opening the door and ushering him inside.

The small ding-ding announcing newcomers made everyone turn their heads. What had been, just a few seconds before, animated conversations turned to complete silence as the clients and workers stared at them. Oliver shifted uncomfortably on his feet, moving closer to Felicity and trying to hide behind her.

She rolled her eyes and plastered a smile on her face. “Hi. We have an appointment with Victoria. She said we could wait for her?”

The hairdresser who was busy with the curlers seemed to shake off her trance. “Oh. Sure. Just take a seat.”

Felicity took the last chair in the small waiting area while Oliver stood there, arms hanging and looking completely lost.

One of the oldest women under the helmets patted the empty seat next to her. “Come here, young man. You can keep me company. My name is Helen.”

He hesitantly sat down next to her, trying to avoid bumping his head against the helmet that was attached to the seat. “I’m Oliver. Nice to meet you.”

“I’m sorry, dear, I left my glasses in my purse. It’s just behind you, could you grab it for me?” Helen asked him. “It’s hard for me to get up, I had a hip replacement recently.”

Oliver hurried to his feet. “Of course!” Turning around, he paused in front of the several handbags in display. “Which one is it?”

“Mmmh? Oh the big red one,” the older woman answered distractedly, too busy staring at his backside. Felicity tried to muffle her laugh by hiding behind a magazine while Helen was holding a silent conversation with one of her friends. “No, no, I’m sorry, dear. Not that one, I meant the black and red one.” Oliver turned over again and when he raised his arm to place the purse back on its hook, his sweatshirt lifted a bit, showing some skin on his lower back.

“This one?” Oliver asked, holding a purse.

“Yes, thank you. Aren’t you a delicious young man?” she smiled at him as she took the bag, patting his stomach in the process. “My, my, my… don’t we have a nice, firm stomach!”

Oliver blushed, glancing at Felicity who was still trying to hide her amusement. 

 

They only had to wait about five minutes but those minutes were probably the longest in Oliver's life. Only his pride, and Felicity's glare, kept him from running away.

“Great, you’re here. As you can see it’s a bit crowded here. Big day for the town!” Victoria chirped as she entered the salon. “I suppose you don’t necessarily want me to wash your hair?”

“No! No need to wash it!” Oliver replied instantly, alarmed. “Let’s just get done with this.”

“OK, then,” Victoria showed him a seat opposite the big mirrors, between two clients.

Oliver sat down, his foot nervously tapping while Victoria took a big cape and placed it around his shoulders.

“Relax. I know what I’m doing, don’t worry. I’ll just shorten it a bit, I promise,” Victoria reassured him.

Oliver saw Felicity approaching from the corner of his eyes as she was holding her cellphone. “Don’t you dare! I think there has been enough pictures taken!”

“Oliver. You’re in a beauty salon, wearing a purple cape with flower pattern. I will never forgive myself if I don’t immortalize this,” Felicity gently scolded him, her eyes twinkling with mischief.

“I swear to God, if you send this to Tommy…” Oliver threatened her.

“Oh no, no, no. There is no way I am wasting this just for a good laugh. It’s perfect blackmail material.”

Oliver opened his mouth to reply but she cut him off right away. “I’m gonna do a bit of shopping in those cute little shops. I’ll come and pick you up in 20 minutes.” Smiling at him, she leaned down and whispered in his ear. “Try to behave. I wouldn’t want to find you in the bathroom with one of those charming ladies.”

Oliver glared furiously at her. “I’ll make you pay.”

“Tsk, tsk” she chirped, holding her phone. “I wouldn’t threaten me if I were you…”

“Ready, Oliver?” Victoria asked, scissors in hand.

As he watched his assistant walking out the door, he sighed. “As I ever will be.”



***

 

“Oliver, you look even more charming!”

“It makes your hair look so soft!”

“It’s also the perfect length. Your girlfriend can still grab it when… well when she wants to grab it.”

“Helen, don’t grab his hair!”

“I am merely proving my point, Beatrice!”

“And with that scruffy look? Victoria, you did wonderful!”

As Felicity reentered the salon 30 minutes later, she couldn’t see Oliver at first. The seat where she had left him was surrounded by all the clients and workers who were, apparently, more than approving of his new haircut. She cleared her throat, trying to get to him. Only because we need to head to this mini-golf tournament. Absolutely not because I’m dying to see how he looks.

As soon as Oliver saw her, relief showed on his face. She stopped, taken aback. My, my, my… Shaking her head, she quickly caught herself. “Well. See? You really didn’t have to worry.”

Victoria chimed in. “I told you! A jaw like this needs short hair!”

Felicity smiled softly, still gazing into Oliver’s eyes. “You were right. That was a very good dare, indeed.”

He stood up as soon as the dreadful cape was untied. “Victoria told me where the mini-golf tournament is being held. We should go now or we’re gonna be late.”

Felicity barely had the time to say goodbye, Oliver dragging her outside the salon.

“Jeez, I didn’t know you loved mini-golf that much,” she dryly said.

Glaring at her, he kept walking at a relatively steady pace. This short hair really brings out his eyes. I never noticed they were that blue. It’s unfair really. The whole face AND the eyes?

Smirking, he side-eyed her. “I take it I don’t look like a serial-killer anymore?”

Blushing from head to toe, Felicity groaned. “I didn’t mean to say that out-loud”

“Which part? The one about me looking like Ted Bundy or the one complimenting my appearance?” he teased her. “You’re gonna have to be a bit more specific.”

She remained silent, throwing him a glare. They resumed their walk, glancing at the other every now and then until Oliver couldn't take it anymore. "I'm still glad to know I have the whole package."

Felicity opened her mouth to reply but words were left hanging as she stared at a point behind Oliver. Frowning, he turned, wondering what had caught her attention and found himself just as speechless when he saw a police car on the curb with an officer trying to push a grown-up man on the back-seat. A grown-up man dressed as a giant corn-dog.

“Come on, sheriff. I wasn’t trying to flash those ladies!”

“Bartholomew, just get in the car.”

“It’s that bloody costume! I couldn’t get inside the restrooms! Just like I won’t fit in your back-seat!”

“Of course you’ll fit!” The officer pushed a little harder, groaning slightly with the effort.

“What kind of crazy town is this…” Oliver mumbled, unable to tear his eyes off the scene.

Even if he kept his voice down, the sheriff heard him and swapped his head at them. “Oh, you two! Get here!”

Felicity and Oliver looked behind them then back at the officer.

“Yeah, you two over there!”

Sharing a look, they both walked the few feet that lead to the car.

“You,” the officer pointed at Oliver, “you push on the head. And you, young lady, go on the other side of the car and grab Bartholomew. When I tell you, you start pulling.”

Both of them stayed there, mouth agape and slightly blinking at the man.

“Preferably today if you don’t mind!” he barked at them.

“Sorry,” they both said at the same time, hurrying to get to their positions. Felicity climbed on the other side of the car, awkwardly circling whatever body part of Abraham she could get.

“No, not there, sweetie. My wife wouldn’t appreciate it.”

“Oh God I’m sorry, it’s hard to tell with all… all that fabric. Is it better if I put my hands… Oh wow, there too? I’m really sorry. Not for your wife, though, she’s a lucky… I mean, that’s impressive. Sorry. Hum. Where can I hold it? I mean you? Where can I hold you?” Oliver could hear Felicity’s usual rambling as he stepped next to the sheriff, putting both his hands on the top of the costume.

“Is she often like that?” the police officer asked him, quirking an eyebrow.

“… Yes. You get used to it, eventually.”

The other man laughed. “OK, Bartholomew, everyone, are you ready? 1,2,3. PULL!”

 

Once Bartholomew was securely inside the car, the sheriff thanked them, assuring them he was just driving him back home and not arresting him.

“I’m almost afraid to go to that mini-golf tournament,” Oliver slyly said as they stood on the pavement, watching the sheriff’s car driving away.

“It’s too late to change our mind anyway,” Felicity answered distractedly.

Intrigued, Oliver glanced at her, then followed her eyes. They were indeed near the entrance of a big parking lot with several signs indicating this was where the tournament was being held. As they made their way inside the building, they were not surprised to find decorations with the theme of the festival. All the employees were dressed accordingly, although none of them had been brave enough to get a costume like Bartholomew had. Approaching the ticket booth, they signed up their names while the employee explained the rules of the game. It was a duo tournament, the pairing with the least swings would win the Cup. There would obviously be referees at each of the holes, making sure no cheating occurred.

“Once you’re done, just come back here with your sheet. Don’t forget, only the referees can write down the number of swings,” the employee explained, handing them their clubs and two small balls. “Game officially started 30 minutes ago, you will have to complete the 25 holes before 6PM. That leaves you plenty of time, though. The winners will be announced tonight at the bar. 1st prize is all you can eat corn dogs for the rest of the festival. Have fun!"

Walking through the building, they made their way to the big doors, following the signs.

“How do you want to do it?” Felicity asked, taking in the small crowd that had gathered outside. From what they could see, people could start wherever they wanted, ensuring there wasn’t any queue.

Oliver quirked an eyebrow at her.

She rolled her eyes. “You know perfectly well what I meant.”

Chuckling, he handed her a club. “There’s no one anymore at the first hole. Let’s try to do it the right way, shall we?”

Leading her to the small sign that was indicating the beginning of the game, he put down the ball, gesturing for her to take the first shot. She stepped in front of him, while he put his hands across her, resting them on her own on the club. “You need to be supple when you’re holding it. Firm, but supple.”

“Like when I hold chopsticks?” she smiled, turning her head to look at him.

He grinned at her, remembering when he had tried to teach her how to eat Chinese food with chopsticks. “I really hope you do better when you have bigger things in your hands.”

Felicity gasped, laughing. “You did not just say that!”

Smirking, he placed his hands on her hips to correct her position. “Don’t be stiff, use your hips for balance.”

He stepped back, giving her room while she threw him one last look. Adjusting her stance, she balanced the club once, twice, before hitting the ball with perfect precision, sending it in the hole right away. Smirking, she turned back to face him. “Looks like I’m doing pretty good if the stick is big enough.”

Oliver chuckled, shaking his head. “OK. You’ve played before. Why did you tell me you never had?”

“First of all… I never said that. I said I never took part in a tournament, which is different. And second of all... you seemed to be having so much fun playing the professor, I didn’t want to ruin that.” She lightly tapped his cheek before scurrying to get her ball. Oliver gulped when she bent down, unable to tear his eyes off her.

She caught him red-handed, but seemed to stay oblivious to where his thoughts had taken him as she asked, turning around and trying to take a loot at her behind. “Do I have something on my jeans?” 

“Hum. No. You’re fine,” he mumbled, avoiding her eyes as he placed his own ball on the small painted circle. As she went to the referee to have her score written on the sheet, Oliver took his shot and did just as well as her.

“Hey, we’re pretty good! Think we could win?” she asked him gleefully.

“No idea.” Giving the referee his own sheet, he asked, “are the other ones good?”

“They’re OK. A few couples are pretty good but most people are here for the fun.” The referee handed him his sheet back. “There will be prizes for the three best scores, you probably could get on the podium.”

Felicity narrowed her eyes, observing the other contestants and he frowned at the look of intense concentration on her face, but knew better than to ask what her brain was coming up with.

“Oliver?” she eventually said while he guided her to the second hole.

“Yes?” 

“I want to win,” she calmly asserted. “We are going to win. We are going to win and get this dreadful corn dog cup back to Starling City and you’re gonna put it proudly on your desk.”

Oliver looked at her warily, worried by the calm confidence. “… I don’t want to be a let-down, but unless you find a way to disable all those people, it won’t just be a matter of what you want. Not to mention, why should it be on my desk?!”

“We’re good. Most of them clearly enjoy a drink. And, please, look at me. Do I look like the kind of girl who has a corn dog covered in fake gold on her desk?” she answered, barely looking at him, and he could swear she was already scheming, a small calculated smile growing on her lips.

“You’re the one who wants it in the first place!”

“I want it because I want to win. But fine, if it makes you feel better we’ll have a shared custody,” she waved dismissively. “Not to mention, we’ll get the all you can eat!”

“Felicity. I’m rich. I think I could afford to buy us a couple of corn-dogs.”

Ignoring him, she mumbled, “we need to distract them.”

“Felicity…”

“Take off your shirt, Oliver.”

“… what?”

“Most of the players are women. We need to distract them. So take off your shirt,” she explained slowly as if he was a six-year-old.

“Felicity, I’m not getting half-naked just so you can win a stupid cup!” he hissed, aware that they were slowly becoming an attraction.

Sighing, she folded her arms. “Fine. You’d better play well, though.”

 

It only took them a little less than two hours to complete all the holes. They had done pretty well, according to Felicity who had desperately been nagging the referees to get an estimation of their chances to win the cup. None of them had been willing to answer, which ended up with a pouting Felicity and an amused Oliver.

“I didn’t ask for anything specific. Just a general idea.” Raising her arms, she huffed out a frustrated breath.

“Felicity? It’s just a game.” Oliver tried to hide his smile as both of them were heading to the garage. They had just stopped on the way to get a drink and a corn-dog – regular for Oliver and turkey for Felicity.

“Exactly! It’s supposed to be fun! How am I supposed to have fun when I’m being left in the darkness of ignorance?!”

“You’ll find out in,” Oliver quickly glanced at his watch, “one hour at the most. Think you can handle the darkness until then or am I gonna have to dig up my bags for that topical anesthetic?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you calling me…”

He cut her off. “A cranky toddler probably teething?” he asked innocently. “Why, yes, I believe I am.”



“Here come the lovebirds!” a booming voice welcomed them as soon as they stepped inside the garage. Joe walked towards them, drying his hand on an old rag. “Good news, kid. Your car is fixed and ready to go. You’ll just have to go gentle on her, if it gets too hot, stop regularly to pour water in the radiator. Those old beauties can be fragile. I’ll just need to make one last check, take her for a small ride to make sure everything works. I’ll leave it on the parking lot in front of the bar for you. I’ll give the key to Bob if I don’t see you.”

“That’s great. Thanks a lot, Joe.” Oliver fished out his wallet, handing him his credit card. “Just charge everything on it.”



***

Victoria waved at them as soon as they stepped inside the bar. She was sitting in a booth, with Fred, Danny and Sofia. As the place was already slightly crowded, it took them a couple of minutes to make their way to their friends. Oliver let Felicity sit down first, taking place next to her on one side of the booth.

“I have to say, Oliver… Victoria was right. This haircut is… wow.” Sofia complimented him as soon as he arrived.

He rolled his eyes. “I’d rather forget all about this dare.”

Felicity gently nudged him in the ribs. “Don’t be so whiny. You sure didn’t seem to mind the compliments when I picked you up at the salon.”

He glared at her. “I’d rather forget about that as well, if you don’t mind.”

She smiled sweetly at him then turned her attention towards the rest of the table, whispering, “don’t mind him. He’s a sore loser.”

Rolling his eyes, Oliver stood up. “First round is on me.” He quickly registered what they were drinking before making his way to the bar area.

“Look who’s talking! Miss ‘I don’t want to ride that bull because the dare isn’t fair’”Fred laughed, gulping down the rest of his drink.

“I… honestly don’t remember much about last night,” Felicity blushed. “But I’m sure I had a good reason to say that.”

“Come on. You all but pleaded your man to go with you. All doe-eyed and everything,” Danny snorted before taking a gulp of his beer. ‘You’re lucky he’s so whipped.”

“Don’t pay attention to him,” Sofia interrupted. “I thought that was so sweet that Oliver went with you because he was afraid you’d fall and hurt yourself.”

Giggling, Victoria leaned towards her. “We were all more than tipsy last night.”

Felicity groaned, putting her head between her hands. “Don’t remind me. I just got rid of the headache. I’m never ever drinking tequila sunrise again.”

“Good. That’s why I chose a lemonade.” Oliver put a glass in front of her then proceeded to empty his platter by placing beers in front of everyone, except him.

“Ginger ale?” Fred raised his eyebrows

“Yeah. Long road tomorrow. Not risking it.” He raised his bottle. “Cheers, though.”

“Have they announced the winners, yet?” Felicity asked Victoria.

“No. Did you guys have fun? You were already halfway done when we arrived. We didn’t get the chance to talk to you. You think you have a chance?”

“We did pretty well, I think. But those bloody referees wouldn’t say a thing.”

“Felicity is very competitive,” Oliver explained, smiling fondly at her. “She really wants that cup.”

“Well, there are a few teams who are really good even if most of us just play for the fun. We should know soon enough, I just saw Beatrice and Helen walk in. They were in the salon earlier, remember? Anyway. They are the ones who will announce the winners.”

Victoria had barely finished her sentence when the music was muted down as the two elderly ladies made their way to the small stage.

Felicity squealed with excitement, clapping her hands under Oliver’s amused look.

“What?” she asked defensively. “I’ve never won anything when it comes to sports.”

“I wouldn’t exactly call mini-golf a sport,” Oliver chuckled.

“It’s close enough for me, OK? I’m not very athletic, so this will have to do. And hush they are announcing the winners!” she put her hand on his mouth to make sure he would stay silent, eyes glued to the small stage. She barely felt his hand softly grabbing hers and pulling it down, too focused on the two women who were opening an envelope.

“We’ll announce the podium and you will be able to get your prize at the bar, right away. Third place is Wendy and Marc, congratulations!”

A few cheers erupted from a table nearby as a middle-aged couple high-fived each other.

Felicity bit her lower lip, her foot tapping under the table. “Come on, come on,…”

“Second place goes to… Oliver and Felicity?” Helen announced, frowning as she didn’t recognize the names.

“Oh no…” Felicity let out, shoulders slumping.

“Yes, Helen, you remember Oliver? He was at the salon to get his haircut? Such a nice ass…” Beatrice tried to cover the mic but her words could still be heard across the room.

Oliver groaned, hiding his face while people around them started to laugh, looking across the room, trying to spot him.

“Oh, right! Good job!” Helen said, holding out the envelope closer to her eyes. “And finally… First place… Judith and Gracie, well done girls!” Two women who looked even older than Beatrice and Helen smiled, waving as everyone in the bar applauded them.

Pouting, Felicity crossed her arms. “I really wanted to win.”

“Hey guys! You made it second, that’s great!” Fred tried to cheer her up.

Nudging her, Oliver leaned and murmured. “Come on. We still get a prize.” Standing up, he held out his hand.

Sighing, she took it and got up as well, following him to the bar. “I really thought we had a chance!”

“Felicity, it’s just a mini-golf game. Isn’t it better if it’s someone who lives there who wins, anyway?”

She pondered his words for a moment. “… yeah. You’re probably right. That all you can eat would have been wasted. But I would have really loved to get that cup.”

Their prize was a free framed picture that had been taken during the tournament while they weren’t paying attention. They were talking, holding their clubs while waiting for their turn. Felicity was holding her sheet, her eyes slightly frowning as Oliver was chuckling at her, raising a bottle of water to his lips.


They stayed in the bar for a couple of hours, having a few drinks and a light dinner in the separate dining room. They were about to say goodbyes to their new friends when Felicity suddenly remembered something. “Guys… do you know why I ended up sharing Oliver’s dare and singing with him last night?”

“Yes. When I told you I had already picked Time of My Life, you said you had a crush on Patrick Swayze when you were younger. Oliver said if you came with him you could do the lift together,” Fred laughed. “He did try but it didn’t end up pretty.”

“Yeah… I remember that part.” She lightly pinched Oliver who just looked at her innocently and she couldn't help but smile at the memory. It had been quite a night, after all.

 



“You never learned how to do that lift, did you?” she asked him as they made their way up the stairs to get back to their room.

“… No,” he admitted guiltily. “It didn’t seem that hard, honestly.”

Opening the door, he stepped aside to let her walk in first. Sighing, she took off her coat, setting it on one of the empty chairs, untying her shoes and toeing out of them. From the corner of her eyes, she saw Oliver doing the same and felt slightly awkward for the first time since they had arrived. Last night, the two of them had been completely drunk and barely remembered making it to their room. But tonight, they were both sober and having to share a room suddenly felt very domestic.

As she went to sit on the bed, she saw Oliver hesitating, apparently sharing her feelings.

“… This is awkward, right?” she hesitantly asked, grimacing.

“Yeah.” He ruffled his hair, frowning when he realized it was much shorter now. “Damn.”

Felicity giggled. “You’ll get used to it, I promise. Anyway… how do you think we should do this?”

Oliver raised an eyebrow. “Well, usually I’m more a man of action than words but…”

Tilting her head, she glared at him.

Smiling, he approached the bed. “I don’t know. Maybe we should have drunk tonight, after all. Don’t worry. I’ll sleep on the floor.”

“Don’t be silly, you have a long drive and a meeting tomorrow; I’ll sleep on the floor, you take the bed.”

“My mother would write me out of her will if I let a woman sleep on the floor.”

“I don’t plan on telling your mum about the last two days, so the point is moot,” she pointed out, laying on her back and staring at the ceiling.

“Believe me, she’d find out. She has a sixth sense when it comes to this.”

“Then, we’ll just share the bed. We did it last night, and nothing bad happened. We are both adults… I mean it’s just one night?” she asked him, turning her head to face him. He was still standing, leaning on one of the bed posts.

“Are you sure? If it makes you uncomfortable…” Oliver hesitated, his fingers playing on the post.

“Yes. I mean, let’s be honest it’s kinda… weird. But it would be worse if you were to sleep on the floor. I promise.” Standing up, she walked to her bag. “I’m gonna use the bathroom first, if you don’t mind?”

“Nope. Go ahead.” He sat down on the bed, turning the small TV on to keep him company. Felicity had barely started the shower when there was a small knock on the door. He padded across the room, opening the door.

“Victoria?” he asked, surprised. “Is there something wrong?”

“Oh no! Don’t worry! I just realized I forgot to give my email address to Felicity,” she said, handing him a small business card. “We should try to stay in touch… if you ever stop by again.”

Oliver smiled, pocketing the card. “Yeah… if you ever stop by Starling, just give us a call?” He handed her one of his own business cards.

“… Oliver Queen? Like Queen Consolidated Queen?” Victoria asked, surprised, as she read the small piece of paper.

“The one and only, I’m afraid.”

“Felicity is not really your girlfriend, is she?”

“No, she’s not. We didn’t want to play anyone but everyone assumed and…”

“And it was easier,” Victoria smiled reassuringly. “It’s fine, really. Just… if you don’t mind me giving you advice…”

Frowning, Oliver leaned on the door. “Advice about what?”

“About her. She might not be your girlfriend but you clearly make each other happy. I don't know you, obviously... It's just that everytime you look at her, you get that... smile on your face. Maybe you should reconsider your relationship.”

“No. Felicity is my assistant. And a friend. A very good friend. But we can’t… it… it wouldn’t be… and she’s not… not. I mean she is but…” Oliver stuttered.

Taking pity, Victoria interrupted him. “Hey, it’s fine. I was just giving my opinion. Speaking of which, don’t shave tomorrow either. You need more scruff.” Winking at him, she started to walk away.

“Victoria?” he called out to her, watching her turn around to face him again with a questioning look on her face.

“Thank you. For everything.”

“You’re welcome, Oliver. Take care.”

“Why are you standing in the door?” Felicity’s voice startled him.

“Victoria stopped by to give you her email address.” Turning around, he gave her the small business card. She was wearing pajama pants with unicorns and a simple black t-shirt. Her hair was still in a messy bun and she didn’t have her glasses on.

“Oh, yes. I thought… if I ever stop by, you know?” Grabbing the card, she put it in her handbag. “Shower’s all yours if you want to.”


 

When Oliver opened the bathroom door and stepped back inside the bedroom, he was about to ask Felicity to set the alarm when he saw her already deep in sleep, the remote control hanging loosely from her hand. Smiling softly, he made his way to her side of the bed as quietly as he could. He picked up the remote, turning the TV off. He saw that she had divided the duvet and blankets into two separate piles: one for her and one for him, probably thinking that not being underneath the same sheets would be less intimate. Noticing her cold fingers, he tucked her in the duvet, adding one of his blankets on top of her, then turned off the bedlamp. There was still enough light coming from the window to guide him across the room. He tiptoed around the bed, setting the alarm for the next morning and finally slipped underneath the blanket as slowly as possible, afraid to wake her up. Turning on his side, he took a deep breath, a small smile appearing on his face as he found himself surrounded by the fragrance of green apples, her shower gel. “Sweet and sour… exactly like her” was his last thought as he drifted into sleep.

Chapter Text

"Something I Need"

 

 

I had a dream the other night
About how we only get one life
Woke me up right after two
Stayed awake and stared at you
So I wouldn't lose my mind

And I had the week that came from hell
And yes I know that you could tell
But you're like the net under the ledge
When I go flying off the edge
You go flying off as well

And if you only die once I wanna die with
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you 
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you 

Last night I think I drank too much, yeah
Call it our temporary crutch, hey
With broken words I've tried to say
Honey don't you be afraid
If we got nothing we got us 

And if you only die once I wanna die with
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you 
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you

I know that we're not the same
But I'm so damn glad that we made it
To this time, this time, now 

You got something I need
Yeah in this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once I wanna die with you 
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you 
You got something I need
In this world full of people there's one killing me
And if we only die once, 
I wanna die with you 

If we only die once I wanna die with
If we only live once I wanna live with you

 

 

It was around 2AM when Oliver woke up with a start. He was laying on his back, his heart beating wildly, cold sweat covering his face. Confused about what had caused this reaction, what had caused him to jerk awake. A few images reached out to him. A nightmare. Just a stupid nightmare. Nothing that even made sense. It was more like a feeling of loneliness and helplessness. Failure. He lightly shook his head, knowing full well that the video call with his father and his meeting at the Backstones' were getting inside his head. Oliver Queen was very good at keeping up appearances, he had been raised that way. Stay strong, confident at all times. Don’t let them see what’s really going on in your soul. Keep your head high, play off the part.

Taking a deep breath, he tried to relax enough to get back to sleep. A small movement on his side had him frowning, remembering suddenly who was beside him. Slowly turning his head, he saw her in the dim moonlight as she reached out for his hand, lightly gripping it. She was obviously still asleep, but she must have sensed something was off. Unconsciously, he pressed her hand back as he let his eyes get accustomed with the darkness and looked at her face, so peaceful and reassuring. Synching their breathing calmed his heartbeat enough to fall back asleep.




Warmth. Comfy, reassuring warmth. Even behind her closed eyes, Felicity could sense that the sun hadn’t risen yet. She sighed, snuggling into her pillow, letting the warmth relax her body once more. Her hand reached out to circle the arm that was currently around her waist before her brain could register what she was doing. As she was lightly stroking a solid, strong wrist, a small moan echoed in her ear, piercing the clouds of sleep she was still lingering in.

Her hand froze on Oliver’s arm as she woke up suddenly, her eyes bolting open. Holding her breath, she focused on her hearing, trying to figure out if he was still asleep. His breathing was calm, deep, regular. And very close to her ear. Which made sense since his arm was still currently wrapped around her. Without moving an inch, she tried to get a look, noticing that she had moved to the center of the bed during the night. From what she could feel, she was tucked in her duvet and was separated from Oliver by another layer. “Good. At least there is no full body contact,” she thought with relief.

She squeezed her eyes, hoping he wouldn’t wake up as she slowly pulled his arm away from her while, as quietly as possible, she slipped closer to the edge of the bed inch by inch. Once their bodies were not in contact anymore, she turned around and let out a breath of relief when she saw Oliver still deep in sleep, his hand now clutching her pillow. Grabbing her cellphone, she checked the time. It was barely 6AM, she could try to go back to sleep for an extra hour but the idea that she might end up in the same position again – and worse, with a fully awake Oliver this time – was enough motivation to get up and walk to her bags. Quickly picking her outfit, she silently tip toed to the bathroom, planning to get ahead of schedule by showering first.

 
 

Oliver woke up slowly, his mind still fuzzy, to the sound of running water. Groaning, he reached out to turn on the bedlamp, blinking with the sudden and brutal light. He noticed right away the empty bed, even if the sheets were still warm. Seeing that they were still in their separate sheets, he sighed with relief. He had woken up another time during the night to Felicity’s hair tickling his nose. She had moved in her sleep, probably seeking his warmth judging from the freezing toes he could feel against his leg, despite the layers between them. Without thinking, he had moved closer to her, encaging her feet between his calves, trying to bring her comfort. With the smell of green apples surrounding him, he had fallen back to a dreamless sleep.

Sitting up on the bed, he let his head rest against the headboard, eyes still closed. It felt like the past few days had been like someone had taken his life and turned it upside down. He was left slightly unbalanced, confused about many choices he had made. For the first time in his life, he truly wondered if he was on the right path. If this perfect road that had always seemed to be the one he was supposed to take… was indeed the right one for him. He had been raised with the idea that he was following his father’s steps. The great Robert Queen, a genius businessman, great philanthropist, charming and socialite. For years, he had been following his exact footsteps, going to the College his father went to, even if it was with less success. Oliver Queen had started college like most boys from wealthy families: knowing his name would grant him a degree and having too much money, too much freedom... too soon. Not having to fight his way through had been a source of fun, a liberty he had thought he was lucky to have. Now, he was reconsidering things. By taking everything for granted, by having everything handed to him, Oliver never had once to fight for what he wanted. In fact, he never even had to wonder what he truly wanted in life. Money, booze, girls… isn’t that what every man in his twenties wants? He had been in an on and off relationship with Laurel Lance, that both his parents loved, for years. They were seeing her as the perfect future Mrs Queen. Smart, driven, strong-willed, sophisticated. His father, particularly, was pressuring him to commit, to show a responsible front. Even if he loved Laurel, had probably ever since he was a teenager, Oliver couldn’t bring himself to take that last step with her. She was perfect on paper for him, but Oliver had been presented with perfection ever since he was born. Now he was old enough to understand that perfection didn’t exist and even if it did… he needed something else in his life. A challenge. Surprises. Fights. Someone who expects better from him than just being there to provide. He couldn’t even remember the last time he had fought with Laurel. She barely acknowledged his infidelities, accepting them like they were an obligated part of himself. How many times had he been glad to have a girlfriend who wouldn’t cause drama? A girlfriend who understood that affairs on the side were meaningless?

Yet, for some reason… all of this was changing. It was no longer enough. He had always assumed that this was the way his life was going to be, and he had been fool enough to consider himself lucky for all of that. It was no longer the case. He wanted… he needed more. He needed something else. How was Laurel fitting into all of this? Would she still be the partner everyone thought she was destined to be? Could they find a different balance in their relationship? Or was it time to consider that maybe, they were just not made for each other, despite all the years they had been together?

This trip was only supposed to be about business… but the amount of things he had learned about himself left him slightly dizzy. He had found out that inside of him was another person. Someone he didn’t know much about, but had a gut-deep feeling would make him much more proud of himself than he had been for his entire life. His work had turned from a compulsory activity to a constant challenge and a way for him to make things better around him. Never had he thought he could actually make a change, matter in the family’s company history. That just bearing the last name Queen was enough. How wrong he had been. It had taken him years to find out where this source of frustration had come from. But there, in this crazy town lost in the middle of nowhere, he felt like he had found the beginning of an answer. He wasn’t bored with the whole public persona he was supposed to be. He was bored with himself because he had let other people dictate who he was supposed to be.

He didn’t want to be the next Queen inheriting the company. He wanted to leave his mark. He wanted to make it his own legacy. And for the very first time in his life, he actually thought that maybe he could.

His thoughts were interrupted when Felicity carefully opened the door, peaking an eye.

“Oh. You’re awake. I didn’t wake you up, did I?” she asked worryingly as she stuffed her pajamas into her bag. She made her way to the bed where she sat down to comb her hair.

“No, don’t worry. You barely made a sound,” he reassured her, smiling warmly. “I didn’t know you were such an early bird. Sun is barely rising,” he added, watching her fighting her way through knots.

She grimaced, pulling harder on her comb as she mumbled, “damn it, I knew I should have conditioned it. And I’m not an early bird, I was awake so… thought I might as well take advantage.”

He observed her silently for a few moments, before reaching for the comb. “Let me. You’re gonna end up bald if you keep going on like that.”

Snorting, she paused, the comb still in her hair. “You want to play hairdresser with me?”

“Haha. Very funny. Come on, let me help you.”

Sighing, she tried to hand him the comb that was stuck into a particularly stubborn knot. “It’s stuck,” she whined.

Chuckling, he pushed the blankets away to sit behind her. He carefully picked the comb, delicately moving the strands of hair that were stuck, then proceeded to slowly untie the rest of the knots.

“You’re pretty good at this,” she broke the silence after a couple of minutes.

“I’ve had a lot of practice,” he murmured while separating her hair in two parts, putting the one that was done over her shoulder. “With Thea,” he added with a laugh.

“I didn’t say or imply anything."

“Felicity, I can practically hear your thoughts,” he teased her. “Tsk, stop moving, I’m almost done.”

“It must be good to have a sibling,” she sighed, obviously trying to stay still.

“Yes. Don’t get me wrong though, she can be a real pain in the ass. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Putting the comb down, he leaned in, “There you go. All done.”

“Thank you,” she smiled, turning her head to face him. He saw her short intake of breath when she realized how close there were. For a few seconds, both were unable to tear their eyes away from each other until his alarm started to ring, startling the two of them. Frowning, Oliver reached for his phone, switching it off. “Guess it’s time to get up.”

Standing up, he stretched his arms above his head, his t-shirt rising on his stomach, showing a patch of skin above the waistband of his sweatpants. “Do you still need the bathroom?”

“No. I’m good. I’ll just blow-dry my hair here. Go ahead,” she waved towards the bathroom door, not looking at him. He looked at her, wondering what had gotten into her, then made his way to the bathroom.

 

At the sound of the door closing, Felicity let out a breath she wasn’t aware she’d been holding. 

“He’s a very attractive man. Nothing new there. No need to start blushing, you’ve seen much more of him in the past,” she mumbled to herself.

Shaking her head, she tried to gather her thoughts as she started the hairdryer. The fact that they had spent almost every single minute together the last couple of days had somehow messed with her brain. She felt as if something had shifted between them. Not that Oliver had done or said anything inappropriate but there was an intimacy between them that wasn’t there before. It was unsettling to feel this kind of connection to someone she was working for. There was an understanding between them and a line had been crossed somehow along the way. What had started as a partnership had turned into casual friendship and now… now it felt like something more was blossoming between them. Their bond was tightening and with a man as charming as Oliver, Felicity was afraid she might lose herself in inappropriate emotions.

Having straightened her hair, she decided to opt for a high ponytail. She usually never had the patience to untie the knots but with Oliver’s intervention, it had made it easier for her to tame her thick locks. Fishing out her small make up bag, she was just finishing applying her mascara when Oliver walked out of the bedroom, shirtless and a towel around his neck.

“I was thinking we could grab breakfast on the road. Are you hungry yet?” he asked, putting a sweat-shirt on.

“No. I can wait,” she answered while packing the rest of her clothes. They both quickly finished getting ready and it only took them a couple of minutes to close their bags and head downstairs. Bob had told them to leave their keys on the bar whenever they left which meant they wasted no time getting to the car. Once all of their belongings were inside the trunk, Oliver sat behind the wheel with a joyful sigh.

“You missed it that much? Oh, sorry… I meant her,” Felicity teased him, fastening her seatbelt. “Do you want me to give you a moment?”

He winked at her with a one-sided smile. “I don’t mind having a public.”

She was still laughing when he pulled out of the parking lot, driving in the still empty streets of the small town.

“Do you think we’ll ever come back?” Felicity asked with a bit of nostalgia once they passed the road sign ‘You’re leaving Ivy Town. Come back soon!

“I don’t know. I’d like to, though,” Oliver said softly as the car stopped at a crossroads.

“Me, too.” Sighing, she let her head rest on the back of her seat.

“… You really want that cup, don’t you?”

“God, yes!”

 

The stop for breakfast was also the perfect opportunity to go through the questions they wanted to ask during their meeting with the counselor in Sacramento. They also had received an email from Dig who had overheard one of Isabel’s assistants mentioning she had been getting phone calls from ‘a weird dude who speaks some kind of russianish language’ – which Dig had specified were the exact words used. It might have seemed like a detail for most, but it was confirming Oliver and Felicity’s suspicions: they hadn’t been looking in the right country. That only made them impatient to head back to Starling City and finally be able to tackle the problem. If Felicity was the one who had trouble dealing with the fact that she literally could do nothing to solve the mystery yet, Oliver also seemed to be struggling with the forced inaction. The fact that they were getting closer to seeing Isabel again didn’t help ; as the hours were passing, he was becoming more and more restless.

Thankfully, the meeting with Mrs Bielsen forced him to focus on something else. It had also proved to be resourceful: she had printed all the paperwork concerning the potential tax-cuts that could be applied to the Backstones' financial support if it was used to invest in green energy. Due to Mrs Bielsen’s work, they were able to leave the City Hall earlier than they expected. Neither of them were exactly impatient to join the group that had been staying at the Hyatt Regency but once their small lunch was over, they had no other reason to delay the inevitable.

After a quick check-in, they each went to their respective rooms. Putting down his bags on the bed, Oliver stopped by the bathroom to splash some cold water on his face, in an attempt to get rid of the tiredness of the last few days. As he was patting a towel on his cheeks, he pondered on how idly empty the room seemed to be. There wasn’t a noise, the whole suite was completely silent. After spending almost every minute of the last couple of days with his assistant, the loneliness seemed somehow unnerving. It even felt weird to not see her bright purple toothbrush next to his. Which was utterly ridiculous since they had only spent two nights in the same room. But if there was one thing Oliver had learned about Felicity, it was her ability to brighten a room without doing anything. Sure, she often confronted him, or generally challenged him, but there never was a moment of boredom whenever she was around. He couldn’t be more thankful to have her by his side, knowing she had his back. Their relationship was based on loyalty. A loyalty that went both ways, despite him being her employer. He could sense that the company was going to face some serious challenges and having her by his side was a constant reminder that he wasn’t alone. With one last look in the mirror, he put the towel down on the counter and walked out of the room, ready to face Isabel… and his father.

 

***

“So, this is all we know so far,” Robert Queen concluded after a small 30 minutes of talk.

Oliver and Felicity, who were sitting side by side around the conference table, shared a look, letting loose a sigh of relief.

The investigation had proved that there was no neglect of maintenance, which at least was reassuring for the stock market. Unfortunately, evidence seemed to point towards arson. Arson meant the company was being targeted, and that other facilities could be next.

“Do they have any suspects?” Isabel asked, distractedly playing with a pen.

“No. So far, they are still assembling the puzzle, as they say. Someone clearly manipulated at least one of the gas lines and heating ducts,” Robert shook his head, relaxing back on his seat. “Are there any more questions about that?”

Everyone around the table glanced at their neighbors, lightly shaking their heads.

“Very well. Next thing I wanted to talk about was the fact that, with all the information we have, Walter and I decided it was better to have you back in Starling as soon as possible. You have met with all the main backers, I have a few appointments myself with the ones you were supposed to meet this week.”

“Robert, are you sure? I mean, we are here, a couple of days more surely can’t change much?” Isabel asked, frowning.

“Our head of security and our Board agree with me and Walter. It’s better if we’re all here,” Robert shook his head. “Now, if everything is clear for all of you, I’ll see you back at the office on Monday.”

 As everyone started to gather their belongings, Robert’s voice raised above the small buzzing noise. “Oliver, could you stay a bit behind? I’d like a word.”

Felicity quickly looked at Oliver, a question in her eyes. He knew he had tensed as soon as he had heard his father's request and she had probably noticed. He nodded nonetheless, sitting back on his chair while everyone else hurried to leave the room. Meeting her eyes, he smiled at her reassuringly, “I’ll meet you for dinner, with everyone else.”

Crossing his arms and facing the big screen, Oliver waited patiently until the last assistant left the room. As soon as the door closed, he directed his eyes towards his father, willing to end this as quickly as possible. There was still some serious tension between them, tension that, as Oliver had started to understand, wasn’t just about Isabel’s promotion.

“We’re alone. So what do you want to talk to me about?” he asked politely.

Robert sighed, scratching his chin as he tried to observe his son’s reaction. “Son, I know our relationship has been tensed for the last couple of weeks. Or months, really. But you did a great job with the Backstones.”

“I still haven’t met with the patriarch, yet,” Oliver frowned.

“I know. I just wanted to let you know that you already made a good impression. It was some good work.”

Oliver tilted his head, pondering his father’s words, then huffed out a bitter laugh, shaking his head. “You don’t think I can convince them, do you?”

“That’s not what I said,” Robert defended himself, raising his hands.

“That’s what you implied. You don’t expect better from me than what I did. I’m even ready to bet you’re surprised I managed to get that meeting by myself.” Oliver stood up, pacing in the room. “Is this the reason why you asked for everyone to leave? So you wouldn’t have to show your employees the lack of faith you have in your own son?”

“Oliver, you are putting words in my mouth. I just wanted to say that you did a good job, no matter what happens tomorrow.”

“Then, and I’m repeating myself here, why couldn’t you just say so in front of everyone? Afraid you might piss off your mistress because for once, just for once, I did well enough?”

Robert paused. “Let Isabel out of this, this is about you and me.”

“I can’t leave her out of this since, in case you forgot, she is my superior,” Oliver snorted.

“She was the best choice for the company. You just… are not ready for this.”

“And when I am, what’s going to happen? I’ll have to work with her? The woman you cheat on mum with?!” Oliver asked in disbelief. “How could you even think this was a good idea, dad? How could you?”

“As the CEO of this company, I have to make decisions in the best interest of the company. Your mother understands that. Isabel is qualified, driven and makes sense as vice-president.”

“And I’m neither of those things,” Oliver murmured, more for himself than for his father to hear. Taking a deep breath, he continued, loud enough to be heard this time. “You’re right. I’ll just go and do my job, she’ll do the same and for the love of God, just try to make sure we don’t have to interact more than necessary.”

“Oliver… one day you will understand. Business is business.”

“We are supposed to be better than that. You’ve been drilling me ever since I was a kid that our company was about family. I just don’t understand how you could give such a high position to a stranger!”

“Walter has been my Vice-President for years, and he’s not part of our family either.”

“He has been your partner almost since the beginning, he’s practically a part of our family and you know that. He’s the one who took me under his wing when I started at QC!”

Robert sighed. “It wouldn’t have been a good idea for you to work with me. We’re too much alike.”

“… yes. Yes, we are.” Oliver passed a hand over his face. “Look, I’m supposed to go have dinner with everyone else. Is there anything else you wanted to talk about or can it wait until Monday?”

“No. That is all.”

“Great. Tell Mum and Thea I said hi,” Oliver walked to the computer, ending the call.

 

He was still a bit tense when he walked into the restaurant some 15 minutes later. He had cooled off, trying to figure out why his relationship with his father had become so tense over the last few months. It had all started way before the whole Isabel drama, probably around the time he had started working at QC. His mother had always been there to play the referee, but with Isabel in the picture, Oliver now avoided putting her in the middle.

As soon as he entered the restaurant, he spotted Felicity’s blonde hair. She was sitting at the end of one of the two tables that had been set for their party, having saved a seat for him. Hurrying towards her, he quickly sat down.

“Everything OK?” she asked him, narrowing her eyes as if she could sense something was off. Damn it, she's observant. But now wasn't the time.

“Yeah. Just the usual, don’t worry,” he smiled at her while grabbing the water pitcher. “Water?”

“Yes, please,” she answered, handing him her glass. “So no earth-shattering news I should know about, then?”

Oliver laughed softly. “No. I promise. Just a father and son talk. You know how those can be.”

She quirked an eyebrow. “Oh yeah. I used to have those all the time. You know, back when I was still a man…”

Oliver laughed out loud, attracting attention from their co-workers who had just taken places around the table as well. They both shared a look, smiling sheepishly.

Oliver took a sip of water. “Mother and daughter, then. You don’t talk much about your family but I’m sure you do talk to her every now and then, don’t you?”

Taking a deep breath, she rolled her eyes. “Oh God, yes. Although I’m pretty sure your father doesn’t nag you to find a boyfriend”

Oliver grinned. “No, it’s more like ‘when are you going to settle down’.  Although this time he just talked about the company, mostly.”

He was about to explain more when the waiters appeared with their appetizers. Even if they were sitting at a big table, surrounded by other employees, they mostly spoke to each other as all the other ones had obviously created bonds during the trip. They took this as an opportunity to go through the list of things Oliver was supposed to talk about with the Backstones' the next day, as well as all the data Felicity had gathered on her computer.

Oliver found himself relaxing as dinner progressed. Isabel was at another table, ignoring him - for which he couldn’t be more grateful – and being in a conversation with Felicity, even about their work, usually helped him focus. He was just exchanging a few words with Denis Lewis concerning the last few days he had missed while he was away, when he felt Felicity’s hand gripping his arm.

Turning his head, surprised, he saw her coughing violently, her eyes watering. “Are you OK?” he lightly tapped on her back. “Do you need some water?”

She shook her head violently, unable to talk as her breathing became wheezy.

Oliver’s heart started to beat faster as he saw her obviously struggling to swallow or breath.

“Felicity?!” he stood up violently, pushing back his chair and kneeling in front of her. “What’s going on?” 

He was just about to stand her up, thinking she was choking and mentally trying to remember how to do the Heimlich maneuver when she grabbed the fork that was on her plate, trying to make eye contact with him through her tears. People around them were starting to come to their sense as well, realizing something was wrong.

“She is choking, you need to get her up!” Denis shouted, alarmed.

Felicity tried to shake her head, blindly reaching for her purse and gripping Oliver’s hand as hard as she could.

Realization suddenly dawned on him. “Oh God, it’s your nut allergy, right?” he grabbed her shoulders, trying to force her to look at him, witnessing to his horror her lips turning blue and swollen.

He quickly picked up her purse, opening it and, pushing the plates away, he threw all of the contents on the table, praying to whatever was listening to him that she had one of those epipens. Hands shaking, he barely heard someone shouting “call an ambulance, she is turning blue!” when he found the little yellow stick, opening it as fast as he could.

He turned around, seeing she had been laid down on the floor behind him and he reached for her leg, quickly pressing the epipen into the flesh. He massaged her thigh, not knowing if it was the right thing to do, but desperate to do something. For the longest seconds of his life, he prayed, in his mind, outloud, not seeing any difference, witnessing her fight to get some air to her lungs and clinging to his hand, her eyes never leaving his.

“Come on Felicity. It’s gonna be OK. The ambulance is on its way. You need to try to calm down, it’s just gonna take a few seconds before it starts working.” Kneeling next to her, one hand holding hers and the other one still massaging her thigh, he kept talking to her, trying to reassure her. After about a minute, she seemed to struggle less, her eyes showing less panic as air finally made it through to her lungs. Her lips were still blueish and swollen, her eyes watery and her face slightly puffy and red, but her breathing seemed easier.

Oliver let out a breath of relief, letting his head fall and breaking eye contact for the first time. The noise around him finally seemed to reach his ears and he noticed for the first time the amount of people surrounding them.

 “She is breathing now,” he reassured them, while reaching with his free hand to push back her hair from her forehead. He noticed the sweat on her red and heated skin and asked the closest person if they could bring him a wet napkin. He was carefully passing the wet clothe on her face, trying to bring her as much comfort as he could, when the sirens of an ambulance were heard just outside. He barely paid attention as the paramedics arrived, even when one of them tried to push him out of the way.

“No, I’m not leaving her,” he shrugged the young man off.

“Sir. You need to let us work. She seems fine, but we need to make sure.” The paramedic explained kindly but firmly as he pushed Oliver aside. He stayed there, watching them as they lifted her onto a stretcher, feeling completely helpless. One of the assistants had replaced all of Felicity’s belongings in her bag and handed it to him.

Taking it automatically, he looked at her blankly.

She smiled reassuringly. “She is going to need her ID for the hospital.” She gently nudged him as the paramedics were carrying Felicity out of the restaurant. “You can go with her, I asked one of them.”

He barely remembered the drive to the hospital. All he remembered was sitting next to her in the back of the ambulance while a doctor put an oxygen mask on her still miscolored face, his only words being “Don’t worry, sir. Your girlfriend is gonna be alright.”

And he didn’t correct him because all he could hear in that sentence was that the girl who had been holding his hand as if her life depended on it was going to be fine. His girl was going to be fine. 

Chapter Text

"One More Night"

 

 

You and I go hard at each other like we're going to war.
You and I go rough, we keep throwing things and slamming the door.
You and I get so damn dysfunctional, we stopped keeping score.
You and I get sick, yeah, I know that we can't do this no more.

Yeah, but baby there you go again, there you go again, making me love you.
Yeah, I stopped using my head, using my head, let it all go.
Got you stuck on my body, on my body, like a tattoo.
And now I'm feeling stupid, feeling stupid, crawling back to you.

So I cross my heart and I hope to die
That I'll only stay with you one more night
And I know I said it a million times
But I'll only stay with you one more night

Try to tell you "no" but my body keeps on telling you "yes".
Try to tell you "stop", but your lipstick got me so out of breath.
I'll be waking up in the morning, probably hating myself.
And I'll be waking up, feeling satisfied but guilty as hell.

Yeah, but baby there you go again, there you go again, making me love you.
(Making me love you)
Yeah, I stopped using my head, using my head, let it all go.
(I let it all go)
Got you stuck on my body, on my body, like a tattoo.
(Like a tattoo, yeah)
And now I'm feeling stupid, feeling stupid, crawling back to you.

So I cross my heart and I hope to die
(Yeah)
That I'll only stay with you one more night
(Oh)
And I know I said it a million times
(Yeah)
But I'll only stay with you one more night
(Yeah)

Yeah, baby, give me one more night
Yeah, baby, give me one more night (whoa, yeah)
Yeah, baby, give me one more night (oh, yeah, yeah)

Yeah, but baby there you go again, there you go again making me love you.
Yeah, I stopped using my head, using my head, let it all go.
Got you stuck on my body, on my body like a tattoo.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

So I cross my heart and I hope to die
(Oh oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh)
That I'll only stay with you one more night
(Oh oh oh oh oh oh)
And I know I said it a million times
(Oh, I said it a million times)
But I'll only stay with you one more night
(Yeah, baby give me one more night)

I don't know, whatever.

 

 

“I’m sorry, Miss Smoak. It really is best if you stay here until the morning. You had a severe allergic reaction and I don’t want you to leave this hospital before we get your blood test results.”

As Oliver was walking towards Felicity’s room, he heard the doctor’s last sentence through the half-opened the door. She had been moved to a private room as soon as possible – not that Oliver playing the ‘Queen’ card had anything to do with it… Stopping awkwardly, not daring to walk inside the room, he shifted on his feet as he heard Felicity groaning with frustration.

“But that could take hours! I don’t have hours! Besides, I’m fine. It’s not like it never happened to me before.”

“It shouldn’t take very long. I suggest you try to get as much rest as possible.” The doctor opened the door, and quickly walked past Oliver.

“I take it we are spending the night here?” He asked lightly as he stepped inside the room, trying to lift her mood. She was still laying on the bed, her face only presenting small patches of red. Her hair was still disheveled and judging by the frown she was wearing, her encounter with the physician hadn’t been pleasant.

“I’m sorry. They don’t want to discharge me until my blood analysis come back clean.” She said apologetically, a shaky hand reaching to push back her glasses. Groaning, she laid her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes.

“Don’t worry. I will call the Backstones first thing in the morning to find another date for the meeting.”

“Oliver, no. They might not want to. I won’t let those stupid nuts ruin your efforts. You know very well how important it is for you to come back to QC with those backers on your side. You should just go, I’ll make my way back to Starling with the rest of the group.”

Oliver raised his eyebrows. “You really think I’d be OK leaving you all alone in this hospital?”

“I’ll be fine. With a bit of luck, they might discharge me in the morning, anyway. I’ll spend the day the hotel.”

“No.”

She opened her mouth but Oliver didn’t let her speak.

“Felicity, I mean it. This is not up for negotiation. I either cancel the meeting or I wait with you. I’ll call the Backstones and let them know we might run a bit late, like you had suggested.” Oliver calmly spoke, his eyes letting her know there was no need to argue with him. “The question is, are you up to it, or not?”

“Of course I am! It’s not me that I’m worried about!” Felicity huffed.

“Then it’s settled. I got your bags, by the way. The nurse who made you the injection told me that once the doctor had stopped by, you could take a shower and get ready for the night.” Smiling softly at her, he reached for the bed remote to push her to a sitting position and looked expectantly at her. “Come on.”

Felicity suspiciously narrowed her eyes at him. “Who are you and what have you done with my boss?”

“What?” Oliver asked, genuinely surprised.

“The Oliver Queen I know would have found a way to get the nurse’s phone number and probably asked if I needed help with that shower.”

He laughed, his head thrown back. “I think you’re confounding me with Tommy Merlyn.”

She snorted. “Oh please. You are both exactly the same. Although, now, you’re the one with the best haircut.” She stood up from the bed, reaching for her bags. Oliver placed them on the bed and watched her carefully as she looked through them for whatever she needed.

“Stop staring,” she mumbled, picking up some comfortable clothes.

“I’m not…” he interrupted himself when she turned her head to glare at him. “OK, maybe I am. I’m just making sure you can stand.” He raised both his hands in defense.

Felicity sighed, shaking her head. “I’m fine, Oliver. I know it’s kind of scary to witness, but I promise you… I feel good, now. And I’ll feel even better after that shower.” Turning around, she padded her way to the small bathroom, then stopped herself, her back still facing Oliver. “Are you still going to be there when I’m done?”

“Of course. I’m not leaving you alone in a hospital,” Oliver answered, the offense clear in his voice. He was caught off-guard by the vision of Felicity’s shoulders starting to shake.

“Felicity?” he was next to her in the next second, even before noticing his feet were moving. “What’s wrong?” he softly put his hands on her shoulders, trying to get her to look at him.

“I’m gonna sleep with my boss for the third night in a row,” she giggled, wiping her eyes. “And knowing you, that must be some kind of a record.”

Oliver frowned. “Are you sure you’re alright? You seem a little… off?”

“It’s the epinephrine. It makes me giddy.” She smiled at him, poking him on the chest. “Wow, you’re hard.”

Oliver let his eyes down where she proceeded to poke him once more.

“Like, really hard.” She frowned, mumbling to herself as she palpated his pecs.

Oliver gently put his hands on hers, slowly dragging them away from his body. “How about you go take that shower?”

She smiled at him. “Promise me you’ll still be there?”

Oliver couldn’t help but smile back at her, taking in how far away she was from the professional assistant he was used to. “Yes. I’m not going anywhere.”

She seemed to return back to her normal self, her face growing more serious. She nodded, opening the bathroom door. “Oliver?”

He turned back to her, having already made a few steps towards the chair he was probably going to spend the night on. “Yes?”

“Are you this hard everywhere?” she asked him, frowning, her head tilted on the side.

He opened his mouth and closed it again, not really knowing how to answer as she was clearly a bit high from whatever they had given her. Not to mention, her words were bringing some vivid mental pictures of her asking that question in different circumstances. He lightly shook his head, trying to clear it and to come up with an appropriate response. This only caused Felicity to giggle some more.

“Just kidding!” she chirped, finally closing the door while Oliver let out a sigh of relief. This is going to be a long night…

Once Felicity was done with her shower, she surprisingly went to sleep almost instantly. Oliver grew slightly alarmed, having seen her being energetic and giddy one minute and stumbling onto her bed the next one. One of the nurses assured him it was normal, but he still had a hard time relaxing. The fact that he was sitting on a very uncomfortable chair probably wasn’t helping, even if he had been given pillows and blankets. Felicity was sleeping quietly and the sound of her regular breathing finally helped him drift off as well.

It was still night when an eerie feeling woke him up. The room was mostly dark, and it took him a couple of seconds to remember where he was. Once his eyes were accustomed to the darkness, he recognized Felicity’s silhouette, sitting on the bed with her legs crossed. He couldn’t see her face in details, but she was obviously looking at him.

“Oh perfect. You’re awake!” she instantly jumped out of bed, turning on the light.

He groaned, closing his eyes tightly against the sudden burst of light. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes. I just went to talk to the nurse. My blood tests came back, all is well. We can leave whenever we want to,” Felicity explained while going through her purse. “If we leave in the next hour, we’ll even be in Sorora ahead of schedule.”

Oliver rubbed his eyes as he pushed back the blanket that was covering him. Putting his elbows on his knees, he observed her while she was getting her things ready, noting her routine was back to normal. He had noticed that Felicity would always check her phone and tablet first thing in the morning. Taking a deep breath, he stood up, stretching.

“Do you mind if I take a shower here? It would save us time if we don’t have to stop at the hotel on the way.”

“Sure. Help yourself.” Felicity answered distractedly, too focused on her phone to pay attention to him.

He quickly made his way to the small storage space at the end of the room, where he had put his outfit and a toilet kit. He took a quick shower, brushed his teeth, deciding to follow Victoria’s advice once more. Besides, making a pass on the shaving would save them precious time.

While he had been in the bathroom, Felicity had been busy signing up all the papers discharging her. While she got ready herself, he packed up the rest of their belongings, already charging them in the car. They were ready to leave the hospital merely 40 minutes after he had woken up, planning to stop on their way to grab a quick breakfast.

“The doctor asked if I knew what had caused the allergy,” Felicity told him as they made their way on the empty roads. “It’s weird, I don’t recall peanuts being common in bourguignon beef. And the test they made confirmed it was indeed due to peanuts.”

“I had a few words with the HR assistant in charge of these things. She swore to me she made sure every restaurant knew about this. I know her, she’s been working at QC for ages and she didn’t seem to be lying. She had asked the chef and he confirmed there was no peanuts involved in any of the meals he was supposed to prepare for us,” Oliver answered, his eyes on the road and jaw tense.

“Maybe it’s one of the kitchen employees that messed up?” she asked, shrugging a shoulder. “Probably afraid to get fired, they wouldn’t admit it.”

Oliver shook his head. “Crazy coincidence, though. That someone would put a completely alien aliment to a dish and it turns out to be just the one you’re allergic to.”

Felicity turned her head, taking in his grim expression. “You think someone did that on purpose? And by someone, we both know who I mean.”

Quickly glancing at her, Oliver sighed. “I don’t know. I know it’s in your HR files, though. Files that Isabel asked for. We also know she tried to sabotage the Backstones meeting earlier this week. It just seems to… fit.”

“Wow.” Felicity let her head rest on her seat. “Just wow. I don’t know if I should feel concerned about the amount of psychopathy that it involves or slightly flattered that she would think of me as such a threat.”

“Let’s not think about this for now, there’s nothing we can do anyway,” he smiled at her reassuringly. “I’ll try to find out more about it tonight.”

“Are you going to bribe potential witnesses?” she teased him.

“If I have to play dirty, I will, Miss Smoak,” he quickly winked at her as he slowed down the car, parking it in front of a 24/7 diner. “Ready for breakfast?”

 

***

 

“You know, son. You’re really not like your father.” Andrew Backstone, the patriarch, sat back on his chair, linking his hands as he looked at Oliver. He had asked to be left alone with him after their small presentation. Oliver had given him the same information he had given Brad earlier that week. Felicity had pulled out the numbers, explaining the technical terms. The two of them had functioned like a well-oiled machine, each sticking to their strength: Oliver being the naturally gifted orator and Felicity the technical back-up. During the whole thirty minutes they had been talking, Andrew hadn’t let a word out, apart from the occasional question; Nothing in his demeanor could have given them a hint about his thoughts. The man was stoical, listening carefully but not letting anything show.

Oliver nodded, lowering his eyes. If I had been given a dollar everytime someone told me that, I’d be… Well. Even richer.

“I know. You’re not the first one to tell me that,” he let out a bitter laugh.

Andrew observed him quietly. “I meant it as a compliment for you. Not the other way around.”

Surprised, Oliver raised his head, his eyes slightly confused with the unexpected comment.

Standing up, Andrew picked up his walking stick and walked around the table where Oliver was still sitting. “I know your father quite well. We are not exactly the best of friends, but financially speaking, we always had a good connection. He is an astute businessman. Has always been. You… you’re different.”

“I’m afraid I don’t really…” Oliver trailed off.

“What I mean is that you seem to care. You bring this new idea, and I can see you really believe in it. You see the future. You are confident this is the right path, but still humble enough to let your assistant –charming young girl, by the way- handle the areas you’re not comfortable with. Your father would have never let his assistant – or any other employee – take the stand.”

“Felicity is much more than my assistant. She is more like a partner to me. And I would be stupid to not let her use her full capacities, just because of her job description,” Oliver answered, slightly defensive. “Not to mention, last time I tried to ask her to act like a typical assistant, she didn’t react that well.” He let out a laugh at the memory of the last time he had tried to have run a personal errand.

“I agree. I used to have an assistant just like that. Much smarter than I, I’m not ashamed to admit it. Smart enough to call me on my bullshit whenever necessary and not caring at all if that could cost her job,” Andrew chuckled. “But I digress. I like the fact that you are so involved. You’re trying to make your place in a company that carries your father’s name. I’ve been there before, it’s not easy. Yet, you still play by the rules. You’re loyal. I respect that. Here’s the deal: we’ll keep our partnership, I’m on board with your new project. But any question I have, it goes directly to you.”

Oliver seemed lost for words for a moment, then quickly caught himself. “That can be arranged. We can keep our partnership between your company and my office. Everything will go directly from me to you”

Andrew smiled, patting Oliver on his shoulder. “Then we have a deal, son. Get a new contract ready, send it to Brad, he’ll go through it. I’ll get back to you by the end of the week and we’ll see how we can make it work.”

As he started walking towards the door, he paused and looked at Oliver. “Now, don’t mind me, but I promised my daughter we would play scrabble. Tell your assistant it was lovely to meet her, will you?”

“Of course. I’m sure it’s likewise,” Oliver answered, gathering all the papers that were still lingering on the table. A sudden thought had him raising his head. “Mr Backstone?”

“Yes?”

“What happened to your assistant?” Oliver asked, genuinely curious.

Andrew paused at the door, his hand already on the handle as the ghost of a smile appeared on his face. “I married her.”

 

***

 

“Linda?”

“No.”

“Steffy?”

“No.”

“Angela!”

“No.”

“Lu…”

“Felicity, I’m not telling you,” Oliver cut her off, trying to keep his voice stern but miserably failing, unable to hide the smile on his face. They were heading back to Sacramento, both being in a festive mood after the success of the afternoon. Since they didn’t have any meeting to worry about anymore, finding out the name of Oliver’s car had become Felicity’s top priority. They had been driving for almost an hour and she had suggested almost every possible female name, even begging for a hint, willing to exchange it against the compromising picture she had taken of him in the beauty salon. The sole fact that he had refused had only spurred her on., bringing up the hyper competitive side of her personality.

She groaned, hitting the back of her head against the seat several times. “Why are you so stubborn?!”

“Me?” Oliver asked in disbelief. “You have a nerve!”

“I am curious, it’s different. Curiosity is healthy,” she defended herself, glaring at him.

Oliver snorted. “I think we passed the Curiosity level 40 miles ago. I’m sorry to inform you that you’re full on the Insanely Obsessive level.”

“I need to keep my mind busy. If only my boss could enter the 21st century and get a car with, oh I don’t know, a music player!”

“Fe-Li-Ci-Ty”

She crossed her arms on her chest, humphing. “Fine. I will find out one way or another, though.”

“Oh I don’t doubt it,” Oliver calmly said, his eyes still on the road. The sun was just starting to set down, basking them in a quiet light on the highway.

“Then why don’t you just tell me?” she all but whined. “It’s driving me insane!”

Oliver smirked. “That’s the point.”

She gasped. “You’re only doing this to piss me off?!”

“Yup,” he nodded his head, unable to hide his smile. He slowed down, shifting the stick as he exited the highway. From the corner of his eyes, he could see her watching him in disbelief.

She threw her arms in the air. “How old are you exactly?!”

“Says the one who threatened to, and I quote, ‘pout all the way back to Sacramento’ if I didn’t tell her what she wanted,” Oliver chuckled. “Besides, I already told you… I’m willing to exchange that information against another one… If only my assistant could, oh I don’t know… tell me what she did on that mechanical bull that involved her apparently missing some piece of clothing?”

“Never,” she stubbornly said.

“Then I won’t tell you.” He laughed slightly, turning his head a quarter of second to see her lips stretching into a small smile.

“Eyes on the road, Mister…”

“Oliver ‘Smooth’ Queen. I know," he grinned softly. “We’re there, anyway.”

He slowed down the car as he entered the hotel garage, not wasting any time as he handed the car keys to a valet. A groom took care of their luggage while they walked up the few steps that led to the lobby. They had just stepped inside the main hall when a cheerful voice welcomed them.

“Felicity!”

Caught off-guard, Felicity stopped looking for her key in her purse, turning to her right where the voice had come from. “Barry?!”

The tall young man stood up from his seat and made his way towards the shocked pair. He stopped next to them, obviously not sure how to act but still wearing his usual goofy smile. Oliver's mood suddenly darkened, and he couldn't help but stare at the young man.

“Barry. What a surprise.”

“I take it no one told you? I was hoping I could surprise Felicity but I thought someone would have let you know.”

“Tell me what? The reason why you are here in this hotel?” Oliver asked coldly, earning a surprised look from Felicity.

“Yes! I wasn’t supposed to be here, actually. But since I’m expected at QC on Monday, your HR office called me and said I could come… here and…” Barry trailed off as Oliver tilted his head, locking his jaw. So the kid was being sent to QC... 

Felicity looked between the two men, probably sensing something was off. “O… kay. That’s great. That you’re going to QC with us. Right, Oliver?” she discreetly stepped on his foot as a subtle way to remind him he was supposed to have manners.

Wincing, he swapped his head at her, quirking an eyebrow. They both stared at each other for a couple of seconds, Felicity sporting a very disapproving look and Oliver on the edge of scolding. None of them willing to back down, until Oliver finally rolled his eyes and forced a a polite smile on his face.

“Yes. It’s great. Why, though?” he swiftly looked at Felicity, adding, “If you don’t mind me asking.”

“You know Mrs Keiffer also offers consultants to help companies to turn towards greener energy? Well. Tada. I’m your new consultant,” Barry laughed, obviously trying to hide his discomfort.

“We definitely need help in this area,” Felicity smiled broadly at him. “Looks like I’ll be able to give you a tour much sooner than we thought!”

Barry grinned back at her. “Yes. Even better, there’s a new Doctor Who tonight, we could watch it together!”

“We still have work, Barry,” Oliver interrupted them. He really didn't like being left out of the conversation. It was rude. Not to mention, Felicity must have been tired and not in the mood to watch a stupid TV show.

Felicity frowned at him. “Barry, could you excuse us a second?”

She didn’t wait for an answer and dragged Oliver by the sleeve a few feet away. Lowering her voice, she hissed, “what has gotten into you? We don’t have any work to do tonight. And why are you so rude to him?!”

Oliver shoved his hands in his pockets, glancing at the ceiling. “I don’t trust him.”

“What?!”

“He works for Lucy Keiffer, the woman who’s in with Isabel’s plans, in case you forgot!”

“Which we only found out about because of him, in case you forgot!”

Oliver opened his mouth but seeing the furious look in her eyes, he shut it back, avoiding her gaze. Taking a deep breath, he made sure to keep his voice down. “I’m just saying that we don’t know much about him.”

“Exactly. So far, everything seems to prove he is a good person.”

“Why, because he likes Doctor Who?” Oliver snorted.

Felicity squared back her shoulders, willing herself to keep her calm. “No. Because he has been decent with me from the minute we met. Which is something I can’t say about everyone I work with, can I?”

Oliver blanched at her words. “Felicity… I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry.” Pinching his nose, he mumbled, “I just… I’m worried. I don’t want you to be caught in the crossfire any more than you already are. Isabel is… she is manipulative. She knows how to choose her pawns.”

“Like your father?”

“… Yes. I’m afraid he doesn’t think clearly when she’s involved.”

“Neither do you, apparently,” Felicity said softly, putting her hand on his arm. “Oliver, I appreciate you being concerned. But there are lines you cannot cross. Barry seems like a good guy. Am I going to tell him all about what we’ve found? Hell, no. I’m good at keeping secrets. Don’t worry about that.” With one last smile, she turned around, joining Barry who welcomed her with a relieved smile.

“I'm not worried about that…” Oliver mumbled to himself as he watched the two of them making their way to the elevators.

 

Sighing, he made his way to the bar area, already thinking about the scotch he intended to order. He had just sat down on one of the high stools when a familiar voice caught his attention:

“Fancy meeting you here”

He closed his eyes for the briefest second, fully aware that the moment of calm he had been seeking was getting away from his grasp. Putting on his best charming smile, he nonetheless greeted the newcomer:

“Mandy.” Noticing she was standing right next to him with an expectative look on her face, he added, more out of obligation than anything else, “would you like a drink?”

She smiled instantly, already climbing on the seat to his right. “I would love to. A glass of white wine, please.”

Oliver passed his order to the barman while listening distractedly to Mandy’s talking.

“I wasn’t expecting you so soon. I even thought you wouldn’t come back to Sacramento at all. I take it the meeting was shorter than expected?”

Oliver’s smile didn’t quite reach his eyes as he answered. “Something like that, yes.” He had already decided that the result of the meeting would be kept under the radar for as long as possible. A part of him was still doubting himself and as long as the contract hadn’t been signed, Andrew still had the possibility to change his mind.

Sensing she wasn’t getting any more information about that, Mandy shifted on her seat, her hand reaching for a small glass recipient that was holding crackers and different kinds of nuts. As he thanked the barman who handed them their drinks, he saw her picking a peanut and popping it in her mouth. The small action was random enough but it brought back the unpleasant memory of Felicity’s allergy. Frowning, he realized that Mandy might be the perfect person to help him figure out if his doubts were indeed founded – Could Isabel have paid someone to slip something in their food?

“To business trips,” he said, raising his glass. 

If she was surprised by the change of tone, Mandy didn’t let it show. She swiftly picked up her own drink, lightly clinking it against his.

She smiled at him seductively, taking a sip of her wine. Keeping her eyes on him, she licked the remaining liquid on her lips. “Let’s hope next time we’ll have the chance to spend more time together”

“Well, we were supposed to have some free time last night, but with what happened to Felicity…” he trailed off, the hand holding his scotch circling around the glass.

“Oh. Yes. They told us she was fine, though. You didn’t have to go with her, you know. I would have kept you company,” she cheekily said, letting her hand fall on his thigh.

“We really needed to work on that presentation. Believe me, if it had just been me, I would have stayed.”

She eyed him suspiciously. “You did look worried, though.”

Oliver tilted his head. “Really? Well, I guess I freaked out a bit, like everyone else. You can’t deny it was scary to see,” he huffed out a laugh, taking a sip of his drink.

“It was. I didn’t know it could be that bad, honestly.” She shuddered slightly. “I always thought allergies were just getting stomach aches or rash… Not inability to breathe.”

Oliver eyed her carefully. “Yeah. Most people don’t think it can be lethal. They probably just think it incapacitates someone for a day or two, like the flu. The truth is, she could have died hadn’t it been for the epipen. Felicity doesn’t want to sue the restaurant, but I’m still considering it. It almost ruined our chances with the Backstones. What do you think? The chef swears there were no nuts at all in last night’s menu.”

“I… I don’t know. Someone probably made a mistake? It happens.” Mandy focused on the drink in her hand. “I mean, I know it’s serious but she is fine, now. Maybe she’s right, putting everything behind her might be the best solution.”

Oliver nodded, not being fooled. Whatever had happened, she knew something about it. Or at least had strong suspicions, like him. Getting her to talk, though, would take much more alcohol. He gulped down the last of his drink, knowing that it would probably unconsciously encourage her to do the same.

“Come on, it’s our last night. We deserve a bit of fun, don’t we?” he winked at her, raising his arm to call the barman once more.

She appeared relieved at the thought, flashing him a grin before grabbing her glass and finishing it off. “You’re right. Tequila?”

Once more, the souvenir of another blonde danced before his eyes. A disheveled Felicity taking a shot in Ivy Town. His smile flickered as he remembered he had been holding a slice of lemon between his lips. She had taken it with her teeth, her lips so close to his, he could almost feel them. He lightly shook his head, trying to get back to the present. It was the first time he had remembered something that had happened during their drunk night in that God-damn town.

“Tequila!” He unbuttoned his cufflinks, rolling up his sleeves. Taking off his tie, he placed besides him on the bar as two small glasses were put in front of them. He handed one of them to Mandy, silently praying she was a light-weight.

After two other glasses, she was already tipsy enough to get her to talk. Oliver didn’t plan on getting her completely drunk, mostly because it felt a lot like manipulating someone who wouldn’t be in control of their acts. That might have been something he had had no problem with in the past, but it was now a line he wouldn’t cross.

“Such a pity we didn’t get to do that last night as well,” he cheerfully said, putting down what was left of a lemon slice. “Anyway… I’ve been dying to know something…”

Her eyes shining bright, Mandy leaned towards him and whispered in his ear, “what?”

“How has it been going with Isabel? I can’t stand her and she can’t stand me either. Was she decent with you all? She didn’t say anything about me, right? Or even about Felicity?”

“No. I mean she’s… cold. She never seemed to please whenever your name was mentioned but she didn’t do anything. She did ask Mark to go through your assistant’s records, though. Because, and don’t get me wrong, I’m just quoting her, Okay?”

Oliver raised his right hand. “I swear it on this holy… bottle of tequila.”

Mandy giggled as she moved closer to him. “She said that the one she was really worried about wasn’t you but Felicity.” She patted him on the arm, adding, “which is stupid because she is just an assistant, while you are the CEO’s son”

Oliver let out a small laugh. “Wow. She said that? I honestly thought it would be worse. Are you sure she didn’t say anything else?”

Mandy frowned, obviously searching through her memory. “No… Mark told me that she sees you as a rival but that you’re not the brains. Doesn’t make much sense, though.” Biting her lips, she fidgeted with the hem of her dress. “I’d be careful if I were you, Oliver. She seems like someone who would do anything – anything – to get what she wants.”

Sensing she wasn’t about to say anything else, Oliver chuckled. “I seem to remember another QC employee shares that trait…”

Mandy laughed, the relief in her eyes obvious. It was clear she wasn’t comfortable talking about Isabel. It was also clear she wasn’t about to say anything else about it and Oliver had a feeling that she didn’t know anything for sure. What was also obvious was the fact that she, too, was wary of Isabel. Knowing how Mandy and Mark were close, Oliver felt like his suspicions might have been right.

Picking up his tie and jacket, he stood up from his stool. “Well. It was lovely catching up with you. But I have a long road tomorrow.”

Looking disappointed, Mandy asked him, “We could have one last drink in your room?”

He shook his head. “No. That wouldn’t be reasonable. I’m driving tomorrow, after all.”

She nodded her head and stood up as well, lightly wobbling on her feet. Oliver caught her by the arms, silently cursing himself for not having realized that she was already intoxicated. “You’re gonna be alright?”

“Yeah. Just a bit dizzy,” she smiled at him. “Would you mind walking me back to my room, though?”

“Of course.” He guided her through the bar with a hand on her back, not comfortable with the idea of having her walking in the hotel by herself. They had just made it to her door, Mandy being busy trying to find her keycard in her purse, when he saw Barry on the far side of the hallway, knocking on a door. Despite the distance, he heard the door open and a squeal of delight he would recognize everywhere. A small hand appeared from inside the room and grabbed Barry, pulling him inside.

Oliver stood there, Mandy’s rambling and cursing about her keys barely reaching his ears. He knew Felicity was an attractive woman. He also knew she and Barry had hit it off right away. But the bitter taste that he had in his mouth had his stomach churning and it took all his will power to not stomp his way to her door. I’m just worried about her. I’m just worried. It’s perfectly fine. Friends care about each other. That’s what we are. We are friends.

“Hum, Oliver?”

Mandy’s voice wasn’t enough to get him out of his own thoughts, but the small hand reaching for his arm finally breached through. He looked at her, puzzled, having almost forgotten about her. He glanced once more at the door at the end of the hallway, his head still reeling with mental pictures of Felicity sleeping near him, of her cold feet seeking his warmth, of the morning where he had combed her hair, of her in that damn towel barely covering her body, of his toothbrush that was now by itself on his bathroom counter. She’s just a friend. Just a friend.

“Oliver, are you sure you don’t…”

Oliver’s lips were on hers before she could finish her sentence, walking them both inside her room. He kicked the door closed with his foot, wishing he could also close the door to the torturing images his brains were coming up with. Images of what Felicity was probably doing at that moment, with another man. She’s just a friend. She’s just a friend.

Chapter Text

"The Scientist"

 

 

Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are

I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start

Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh, take me back to the start

I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart

Questions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start

Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard

I'm going back to the start

 

 

As Felicity was getting ready for bed, Barry having left right after the last episode of Doctor Who, she noticed a small buzzing sound coming from her purse. Frowning, she glanced at the night stand where she had left her cellphone. Quickly picking up her bag, she realized that the constant noise was coming from another phone. Oliver’s. She remembered having put it in her bag when they had left the Backstones and had completely forgotten about it. She checked the time, biting her lips. It was barely 10 PM and knowing Oliver, he probably wasn’t asleep yet. Even if he was, he still might need his cellphone at some point and she didn’t want him to knock on her door in the middle of the night. Grabbing a hoodie, she put it over her pajamas and, barefoot, swiftly made her way to his room, his phone in hand.

She stopped in front of his door, knocking softly, secretly hoping she wouldn’t have to go to the reception desk to leave him a message. The weekend had been more than eventful and to say she was exhausted was an understatement. She seemed to hear some shuffling noises coming from the room and was about to knock once more – louder this time, when the door burst open to a surprised-looking Oliver.

“Hum. Felicity?” he asked, dumbfounded, stepping closer to her and keeping the door only slightly ajar.

Smiling warmly at him, she held out his cellphone. “Found this one in my bag. Figured you might need it and didn’t want to…” Felicity’s words stopped abruptly when she saw the door opening wider, and a smug looking Mandy passed by them, her hair messy and shoes in hand.

“I think she can take the night off… don’t you think?” she smirked, throwing Felicity a satisfied look while Oliver avoided looking at either woman, his eyes shifting to his feet, which were just as bare as Mandy’s. Only then did she notice his ruffled hair and wrinkly clothes.

Felicity’s smile fell off her face as she tried to comprehend what was happening. Oliver finally looked up, meeting her eyes and he let out a small grimace of discomfort. If she had any doubts left, the guilt on his face told her everything she needed to know. Oliver had had sex with Mandy. Of all the women he could have picked, he went with the one who had been hell bent on making her life as miserable as possible. Of course, Oliver was free to act as he pleased, but she had thought that he at least cared enough about her to not give Mandy more ammunition.

“Felicity, I…”

She shook her head, shoving his phone in his hand. “I don’t want to hear it.”

He instinctively took a step towards her, to which she responded just as automatically by stepping away from him, raising a hand between them, putting a brave smile on her face. “No, really. What happens in Sacramento, stays in Sacramento.”

Turning around, she held her head high as she padded back to her room. Oliver was an adult, after all. She had been too naive, thinking they were friends instead of just colleagues.

 

Oliver stood there for what seems like forever, watching her walk away from him without a single glance in his direction. The pain he had seen on her face, the clear feeling of betrayal, were already engraved in his mind. He heard her door closing, the sound far away from him and barely reaching through the beating of his own heart. Not able to look away from her door, he stayed there, silently wishing she would come back, that she would let him explain, tell her that it didn’t mean anything, that he was sorry, that he never wanted to hurt her. He was so lost in thought, he didn’t even notice someone walking out of the elevator and heading in his direction until Barry Allen’s cheerful voice was too close to ignore.

“Mister Queen!”

Turning his head, he glared coldly at the newcomer, barely registering the Big Belly Burger paper bag he was holding.

Barry’s smile quickly disappeared under the stare. “Hum… good night, I guess.”

Frowning, Oliver answered, “Goodnight, Barry. I thought you were supposed to meet with Felicity tonight?”

“Yeah. I did. I mean we already watched the two episodes of Doctor Who. David Tennant is our favorite Doctor”

Oliver closed his eyes for a second, letting out a sigh of relief. A relief he had no right to feel, he quickly reminded himself. Composing himself, he smiled politely at the younger man. “Well, enjoy your meal, then.”

“I sure will,” Barry replied cheerfully, quickly making his way to his own room. As he was opening the door, he glanced once more at Oliver, waving slightly at him. This seemed to shake Oliver out of his trance, and he finally walked back inside his bedroom as well.

Locking the door, he made his way across the room, sitting on the barely rumpled sheets and throwing his phone on the night stand. Putting his head in his hands, he closed his eyes, thinking of how much of a mess the night had turned into. And he only had himself to blame.

A buzzing sound suddenly caught his attention. Putting his hands down, he stared at his cellphone, not willing to talk to anyone at the moment but also aware that it might be important. Sighing, he shook his head, reaching for it. The smiling face appearing on the screen had him grimacing in guilt and remorse. In the split of second it took him to press the key to accept the call, he had made up his mind. Starting now, he was going to try to get out of this hole he had been digging himself into.

“Hi Laurel,” he greeted her, forcing a smile on his face.

“Oliver! I tried to reach you several times… is everything OK?” she asked, sounding worried.

“Yeah, yeah… sorry. I forgot my phone somewhere, I just got it back.”

“Oh. You had me worried for a while. It’s not really like you. I haven’t heard from you in days… is everything alright?”

Oliver cleared his throat. “I’m fine, Laurel. Actually, I’m heading back to Starling tomorrow.”

“I thought you were going to be away for at least another week?” she asked, the annoyance in her voice making it sound younger. It irked Oliver for a reason that he couldn’t understand. Since when did her voice feel like fingernails on a chalkboard? 

Forcing his voice to stay neutral, he explained. “Yes. The rest of the trip is cancelled. Listen, I was wondering if…”

Laurel cut him off. “I was just calling you to tell you I was going to spend the week with Sara and mum. I had my last test today and mum and dad offered us a small rental down  the coast.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah… I can’t cancel, they already paid.”

“When are you leaving? I’d like to talk to you. I should be home late afternoon, I could drop by your place?” Oliver asked, willing himself to go through with his decision. This masquerade can’t go on. She deserves better.

“We’re leaving in the early morning. That’s why I was trying so hard to reach you. It’s a last-minute deal,” she huffed out a frustrated sigh. “Why didn’t you let me know sooner?”

“I only found out yesterday, Laurel.” Oliver sat against the headboard, closing his eyes, trying to fight the beginning of what was going to be a massive headache.

“Still. I could have done something yesterday. Why are you even cancelling it, by the way?”

“It’s a long story… when will you be back?”

“Next Sunday. Whatever it is you want to talk about, Oliver, we can do it now. Is it about QC?”

“No, it’s fine. Complicated, but fine. I will see you next Sunday, then.” His tone was much harsher than he intended, causing Laurel to pause, the silence on the line allowing him to hear the background sound of some random TV show.

Feeling guilty, he took a big breath and added in a softer tone, “sorry. It’s been a long week and I have this killer headache. It can wait, really. I really wanted to talk to you, not just on the phone.” He winced as soon as the words left his mouth. A part of him wanted to get done with it, but he knew he at least owed it to her to do it in her face, not through a cowardly phone call. Unfortunately, his phrasing might be misinterpreted.

“It’s alright. I know it’s late, I’m tired too, to be fair,” she laughed lightly, her mood instantly lighter which only confirmed Oliver’s fears. Keep digging, Oliver. Just keep digging…

He quickly ended the call after that, thinking that at least he had made a step in the right direction. Undressing, he walked in the bathroom, opening the shower door. As the water was running, he stepped inside, letting it relax his muscles. Closing his eyes under the stream, he put both hands on the wall, his head falling forward allowing the water to cascade down his back. He tried to focus on anything and everything, his trip back home, the baseball season,… anything to avoid thinking about his actions from the night. The look on Felicity’s face, him stumbling into his room with Mandy after she told him they couldn’t stay in hers because she was sharing it with Mark, the taste of her skin on his lips. It had felt so wrong somehow but he had kept going, hoping her body would bring him the comfort he was seeking. It hadn’t worked. She had taken off his shirt, lightly scratching his back while he was lowering her bra cups, his mouth taunting her, breathing in her ear while his hands teased her quivering body. It had taken him a second to realize she had stiffened, to realize he had been talking, to realize he had said what he should have never said. Because he didn’t have the right. Because it was a new low, even for him. Because using each other’s body for pleasure was one thing. But this… using her body to keep his mind off of whatever was happening a couple of doors down the hall… It wasn’t right. And it obviously wasn’t working either.

So he had stopped, closed his eyes for a couple more seconds. Just as he was moving, freeing her from his weight, he had opened his mouth to apologize but she hadn’t let him. Replacing her bra on her breasts, she had put her dress back on just as he picked up his discarded shirt, getting dressed as well.

Shaking his head, trying to clear off his thoughts, he shut down the water. Stepping outside of the shower, he quickly dried himself, draping the towel around his waist as he brushed his teeth.

Once he was back in bed, he fidgeted with the remote control, desperate for sleep but also suspecting he wouldn’t find it easily tonight. Turning off the lights, he chose a re-run of an episode of X-Files in a desperate attempt to keep his mind busy. It took another two episodes of the TV show to eventually fall asleep, the remote-control slipping from his hand.

 

 

***

Unsurprisingly, he woke up much later than expected. Quickly freshening up, he made his way downstairs to grab a light breakfast, secretly hoping he would meet Felicity on the way and get to clear the air with her. Luck seemed to be on his side as she was waiting on the ground floor for the elevator. He noted she was accompanied by Barry but he wasn’t about to let that stop him. He quietly walked up to her, softly putting a hand on her back as a warning of his presence in her back.

“Good morning,” he said to the two of them. “Felicity, may I have a word?”

“Good morning, Oliver,” she answered, her tone neutral and polite. “Barry and I were just about to go back to our rooms, can it wait?”

“Mister Queen, good morning!” Barry said with a smile. He looked at Felicity who had turned her back once more, apparently confused with her behavior. “You know, why don’t we meet here in thirty minutes? We still have plenty of time before we have to give our keys back, anyway.”

Felicity’s shoulders stiffened but this time she forced a smile. “I know. But I still need to pack and I hate having to leave a hotel room in a rush. I always feel like I’m forgetting something. Besides…” she turned to Oliver, quirking an eyebrow at him, “I’m positive this can wait until Monday.”

Shifting on his feet under Felicity’s stare, Oliver shoved his hands in his pockets. “I guess so. You are going back by plane, then?”

Noticing the awkwardness between the two, Barry coughed slightly as he made his way to the staircase. “You know what, I’ll just go ahead. See you in half an hour!”

Sighing exasperatedly, Felicity crossed her arms, looking expectantly at Oliver. “Yes, I’m taking the plane. I wouldn’t want to play third wheel between you and Mandy.”

“Felicity, there’s nothing between Mandy and I and…”

She cut him off, shaking her head. “I’m just your assistant, none of what you do on the side is my business. Let’s just leave it at that.” With a stiff smile, she patted his arm, pressing the button to call the elevator once more.

“You’re my friend as well, Felicity,” he replied, trying to ignore the way her words were digging a hole in his chest.

She stepped inside the elevator. “I will see you on Monday, Oliver. Have a good trip back home.”

 

 

***

 

The way back to Starling City was much more silent without Felicity’s constant rambling and her Spotify playlist in the background. Oliver was fully aware of the irony of the situation; not two weeks ago he had been willing to do almost everything to make sure he would be driving alone and now that it was finally happening, all he could feel was a sense of loneliness and boredom. No more games, no more teasing, no more sharing meals, no more Felicity stealing his fries,… no more laughing.

It was actually a relieved Oliver who drove back into the main alley leading to the Queen Mansion. The sun had already set and he had just made his way out of the garage, carrying his bags when his little sister bounced her way towards him.

Smiling instantly, he dropped his luggage, opening his arms for her.

She stopped a few feet from him, her mouth falling open. “Your hair!”

Oliver chuckled, passing a hand over his now much shorter hair. “Yep. Like it?”

Tilting her head, Thea scrutinized him, her eyes narrowing. “… I do. It looks good!”

“Great. Now give me a hug.”

Laughing, she tackled him. “You’ve been gone forever. Did you get me a souvenir?”

Oliver looked sternly at her once they broke apart. “It was a business trip, Thea. I didn’t really have time for shopping.” Picking up his bags once more, he made his way to the main door, Thea right behind him. “Buuut… I might have gotten you a little something.”

“Ha! I knew it! What is it?” she pleaded him once they were inside the house.

“Let me unpack, will you?” Oliver huffed out a laugh as he walked up the stairs.

Groaning, his sister retreated. “Fine. I was waiting for you to have dinner. Can I tell Raisa she can fix us a little something?”

At the top of the staircase, Oliver turned back, smiling. “I’m starving. Something quick would be perfect. I’ll meet you in the kitchen in 5 minutes?”

She left right away, already running across the house. Shaking his head, Oliver entered his room and put his bags on the bed, already looking for the small gift he had indeed bought for her. Finally finding the small parcel, carefully wrapped in several layers of silk paper, he let out a small smile, remembering where he had bought it.

Once they had been done with the mini-golf, Felicity and he had made their way back to the garage. She had stopped once more in front of a small shop window, looking longingly at a pair of flats with weird looking pandas on them. He had figured out that the price tag was probably keeping her from buying them and he had gently nudged her towards the door.

 

“Try them on.”

“No. No. I don’t really need another pair of shoes,” she shook her head, resisting him as he opened the door.

“Please. Let me. Consider this as an early birthday present," he winked at her, grabbing her hand and, pulling her with him, walked towards the one and only employee. It was a small boutique, very feminine and with a few original pieces - like the panda flats. The whole place was colorful, bright but slightly overwhelming with the amount of merchandise on display.

“My friend would like to try on the panda flats.”

“Oliver, really, it’s not necessary.” Smiling apologetically to the employee, Felicity tried to grab his arm to get him to leave the shop.

“Don’t mind her. She is the stubborn kind.” Oliver smiled charmingly at the woman – Ally according to the nametag on her blouse.

Felicity gasped. “You have a nerve! Me, stubborn?!”

“Yes, you.” Oliver turned towards Ally, who was staring at the two of them, a confused look on her face. “Don’t pay attention. She really wants those shoes. Size…” glancing down at Felicity, he looked at her feet, “7 … 7 and a half?”

“7 and a half,” she instinctively answered, then shook her head. “It doesn’t matter anyway because I don’t want to try them on,” Felicity repeated, gripping her handbag with more force than necessary.

Oliver grinned at her and without taking his eyes off of her, told Ally, “we’ll take a pair of those shoes, size 7 and a half, please.”

Felicity glared at him. “No.”

“Yes.”

The clerk stood there, her head turning between the two of them as if she was watching a ping pong game.

“Oliver, no.”

“Felicity… yes.”

“You can’t buy your assistant a pair of expensive shoes!”

“You’re right. But that’s not what I’m doing. I’m buying a birthday gift for my friend.”

She sighed. “Still. It doesn’t feel right.”

“OK. It’s my birthday soon, too. Why don’t you…” looking around him, he grabbed a small item on a display, “get me this for my birthday?”

Felicity stared at the object in his hand for a few seconds before raising her head, her eyebrow quirked. “Really?”

“Yeah,” he answered as seriously as possible.

Felicity fought back a smile, her eyes twinkling with mischief. “Oliver, I hate to break this to you but… you just got a haircut. You don’t have any use for that anymore.”

They locked eyes, both trying to keep a straight face and not willing to back down. The smiles grew on their faces at the same time just as the clerk cleared her throat, trying to get their attention.

“So… do you want me to wrap this for you?” she asked, holding a box of shoes.

“Yes, please,” Oliver answered, tearing his eyes off Felicity, as he handed her the delicate silvery headband he was still holding in his hand. “Can you also wrap this, please?” 

 

He was interrupted in his thoughts by the sound of a knock on the door. Clearing his head, he turned around, seeing Thea standing on the threshold.

“Dinner is ready?” she asked tentatively, probably noticing her brother had somehow been lost in thoughts.

“Yup.” In five steps he was near her, handing her the small parcel.

Squealing, Thea opened it right away. “Aww. That’s so cute!”

She handed him the discarded papers and, glancing at one of the mirrors in the hallway, put it on right away. Turning her head, she admired herself. The silvery metal was complimenting her naturally dark hair and one small leather panda was incrusted on the right side.

“I’m actually impressed. I was expecting the usual snowglobe or teddy bear,” she smirked at him.

“What can I say? You’re growing up!” he smiled at her. “You like it, then?”

“I love it. Thank you,” she reached on her toes and kissed his cheek, then punched him on the arm. “First one in the kitchen gets the other’s dessert,” before taking off and rushing down the stairs.

Laughing, Oliver followed at a much slower pace. He had always let her win, and even if his sister was indeed growing up, he had a feeling it would never change.

 

***

 

Monday morning happened sooner than he hoped for, the tiredness of the trip heavy on him. It was around 9 when he stepped out of the elevator, and seeing Felicity’s familiar figure at her desk brought a smile on his lips. A small, irrational part of him had feared she wouldn’t have been there for some reason.

She was laughing to something Dig was saying, the two of them oblivious to him despite the usual ding the elevator had made.

“Good morning. Dig, great to see you back.” He shook his bodyguard’s hand. “I hope Carly is doing better?”

Dig smiled warmly at him. “Yes, she is. Still struggling with her right arm in cast but she’s getting there. A broken arm is nothing too serious. I was just waiting for you to thank you for the flowers. If you don’t need anything, I’ll be down in the security department.”

“That’s great to hear. No problem.” Oliver watched Dig as he made his way to the staircase before turning to his assistant. “Felicity, did you have enough rest? If you need a day or two, I’m sure I could…”

“I’m fine, Oliver,” she interrupted him politely with a professional smile. “You have an appointment with your father after lunch. In your conference room. Walter would like to see you this morning and asked for you to stop by whenever you have the time.”

Oliver frowned. “Did my father tell you the reason for the meeting?”

“No. His assistant just told me that Mr Merlyn would be joining him as well and that it was nothing formal. Apparently the two of them are having lunch together. Which reminds me… Mr Merlyn, junior, would like to see you for lunch.”

“I was planning on getting Big Belly Burger for us, you told me you missed it…”

“I am having lunch with Barry today. It’s his first day,” she answered, not paying attention at him as she was replying an email.

“Well…” Oliver shifted on his feet. “If you already have plans…”

“I do. Thank you for the offer, though,” she smiled at him briefly before focusing on her screen again. “I already transferred you all the important emails.”

“I’ll just stop by Walter’s first and then get to it. Do you need anything? Food, water?”

“No, I’m fine. Thanks.”

His informal meeting with Walter allowed him to catch up on everything that had happened while he had been gone. News of his successful meeting with the Backstones had already reached him and their legal office was hard at work writing up the contract for their new partnership. It lasted well into the morning, and it was only when Walter told him he had another appointment that Oliver realized how late it already was. Cursing slightly, he hurried back to his office, knowing Tommy was supposed to stop by around 11.30, which was 10 minutes ago.

“No, really, Miss Felicity. There is no need to call Oliver. Why don’t you keep me company, instead?”

“Mister Merlyn…”

“Please. I already told you to call me Tommy. Besides, my father is supposed to drop by later and you might get confusing if you call us both ‘Mister Merlyn’.”

Oliver saw Felicity sigh and roll her eyes as he approached them. “Sorry, Tommy.”

“Nah. Don’t worry. Your charming assistant was keeping me company.”

“Felicity, are there any messages?” Oliver asked her, putting his jacket on.

“No,” she answered, not bothering to look at him.

“I should be back by 1 at the latest.”

“Good.”

Tommy stood there, looking at them, obviously confused. Oliver just shook his head, making it clear this was not the time.

Leaning towards him, Tommy whispered, “you know if Miss Felicity wants to join us, she is more than…”

“She already has plans,” Oliver quickly replied just as low.

Tommy had the decency to wait until they were seated at their usual table in a sushi restaurant, just one block away from QC.

“Ok what is going on?” he asked as soon as they had given their order.

Oliver pretended to not understand him. “What is going on with what?”

Tommy glared at him, eyebrows raised.

Oliver sighed as he took a sip of water. Fidgeting with his glass, he avoided his best friend’s eyes.

“Well. Since I have to spell it out for you… what is going on between you and Felicity? When you called me last week, you guys were bickering like an old married couple and now she’s all… cold and professional. And you look like a kicked puppy.”

“I did something stupid this weekend,” Oliver mumbled, his fingers tapping on the table.

“You are scaring me. You didn’t try something on her, did you?”

Oliver snapped his head back up, outraged. “Of course not!”

“OK. Good. Sorry but you make it sound like you murdered her grand-mother!”

Oliver proceeded to tell him what had happened on Saturday night, not leaving out any detail.

“Dude…”

“I know. It was lame. I know that. I apologized but you’ve seen her. She’s just… so polite and formal. She… she hasn’t even babbled once!”

“I’m sorry but I’m still stuck on Saturday night. I can’t believe you called out the wrong name,” Tommy said, his face showing his shock and disbelief.

Oliver tilted his head, looking sternly at him. “Really, that’s all you got from that?”

“Yeah. That has never happened to any of us. You, especially, have had a lot of training. So color me surprised to see that not only did you call a girl by the wrong name during foreplay but… you didn't even call her by your girlfriend’s name.”

“I just had spent the entire week with Felicity. I was tired and slightly drunk. That’s it.”

Tommy snorted, shaking his head.

“What?” Oliver asked defensively.

“You know, we’ve been on vacation together so many times I lost count of them. Drinking and not sleeping much or at all. Yet, I am pretty sure you never called my name in action,” Tommy dryly stated, bringing his glass of wine to his lips. He suddenly paused, his eyes horrified. “Oh God, tell me you never called out my name.”

Oliver rolled his eyes. “Of course not! I’m not attracted to you, idiot.”

Tommy smiled slyly. “So you are attracted to her?” 

The short intake of breath was probably the only answer his best friend needed, judging by the satisfied smirk that grew on his face.

“It doesn’t matter. She is my assistant, my friend and I want to make things right.”

Tommy sighed. “Have you apologized?”

“Yes! Of course! I told her it meant nothing and I was sorry.”

“You should get her flowers.”

“No. She won’t like it, she will think it’s inappropriate.” Oliver shook his head, pinching his lips.

“OK. Does she like chocolate?”

Oliver smiled softly, remembering their lunch and the chocolate cake he had given her and Anna. The way she was savoring each bite, her eyes closed and her tongue licking out the raspberry coulis on her spoon…

Fingers snapping appeared in front of him, startling him. “Where did you just go?” Tommy snorted, not fooled for once second.

“I was trying to remember if she liked chocolate,” he defended himself, cursing silently as he felt his cheeks starting to heat. “And yes, she does. You think I should get her chocolate?”

“No. You should bring her dessert, though. It’s appropriate for a boss to bring take out,” Tommy shrugged, shoving a california roll in his mouth.

And so, once they got out of the restaurant, they made a quick stop at the Italian bakery shop in front of QC’s building. Oliver picked a chocolate fondant with fresh raspberries on top, triple checking that there were no nuts.

It was with a hesitant smile that Oliver walked to Felicity’s desk, where she was already busy sorting through mail. She barely glanced up from her task when she saw the two men approaching her.

Oliver stood awkwardly near her desk, not sure if disturbing her was a good idea until Tommy cleared his throat, rolling his eyes.

“Yes?” Felicity looked at them expectantly. “Is there something you need me to do, Oliver?”

“I have dessert for you.” 

Felicity’s mouth dropped slightly opened as her eyes widened. 

Tommy mumbled under his breath. “Good lord, give me the strength…” Clearing his voice he explained, “what he means is that he got you a chocolate cake from that bakery that you apparently like. It was on our way back.”

Oliver wrinkled his eyes and shook his head when he realized what he had said. “Yes. Of course. Not the other kind of… I mean. I remember you liked chocolate cake.” He put the small box in front of her, looking at her hopefully.

She moved her eyes from him to the box. “Thank you. That is very considerate of you.”

Oliver shifted on his feet, not knowing what to do next. “Sure. Anytime.”

She put the box in one of the shelves of her desk then proceeded to sort the mail once again, not paying attention to him anymore. “I will let you know when your father arrives.”

Oliver shared a look with Tommy who winced and gave a sharp nod of his head. Oliver followed him into his own office, making sure to close the door.

“So… that obviously didn’t go as well as I thought,” Tommy said as he sat down on the sofa.

“I hate it. She’s so… professional!”

“Oh yeah… it’s awful. A professional employee. I hate it when I get one of those,” Tommy taunted him, his fingers playing on his knee.

“You know what I mean.”

“I think you’re doing it wrong,” Tommy said thoughtfully, scratching his chin.

“What do you mean?” Oliver asked as he sat down on one of the chairs.

“You apologized but she is still acting distant. You need to force her to break that wall.”

“Great. And how exactly am I supposed to do that if she barely talks to me?”

“From what I’ve seen she has no problem talking to you when she’s mad at you, does she?”

“… none at all,” Oliver laughed slightly remembering the number of times she had given him a piece of her mind.

“It’s easy, then.” Tommy smiled mischievously, leaning towards him. “You have to piss her off.”

 

 

Their fathers arrived shortly after that. Apparently, they were planning to invest in a common project and just wanted to talk about it informally at first. Malcolm wanted more information about the new eco-friendly project Oliver was working on and Robert had thought it was a good idea to get the information directly from him.

As the four of them were seated in the conference room, Oliver used the intercom to call Felicity. The sound of her heels announced her arrival a few seconds later.

“Miss Smoak. Could you get my guests and I some coffee, please?”

The professional smile she had been wearing faded a bit as her eyes seemed to darken. Oliver forced himself to stay stoic under her glare as he continued, "the coffee maker is right over there.” He pointed to a small room, directly in front of him, that was separated from the conference room by a wall of glass, like the rest of the office.

Without a word, she walked past them, closing the door behind her.

Oliver and Tommy shared an amused look, while Robert and Malcolm, still talking, were oblivious to the assistant that was in the room behind them. 

The amusement on Oliver and Tommy’s faces turned to confusion once they saw Felicity standing in front of the coffee maker, hands on her hips as is she was gauging the device.

Oliver turned his head to look at Tommy whose expression changed abruptly, his mouth popping open and his eyes bulging out. Turning his head back just in time, he saw a grimacing Felicity using all of her weight to try to push the coffee maker off of the table. It was a big, sophisticated machine that, Oliver knew from having the same one at the Queen mansion, weighed a lot. Slightly shocked, he watched her struggling for a couple of seconds before giving up and grabbing one of the handles. She yanked at it brutally, efficiently breaking it. She threw it away haphazardly and grabbing a milk frother, she held it out like a baseball bat and swung it, efficiently breaking the digital display.

Tommy and Oliver shared a nervous look as she carefully put the milk frother back in place. After fixing her hair, she stood there for a moment, hands on her hips, apparently admiring her handiwork.

As she opened the door once more with an innocent smile on her lips but a devilish look in her eyes, she addressed him sweetly. “I’m sorry, Mister Queen, but it seems as if someone broke our coffee maker.”

As she made her way past the older men, who were still oblivious to what had happened, she kept her eyes fixed on Oliver.  Slowing down when she arrived next to him, she furiously mouthed, “violently” and left the room without a glance behind her.

As Oliver watched her retreat, a small smile appeared on his lips and he turned to his best friend.

Tommy was still looking at the coffee maker, his mouth agape. “Did she… did she really…”

“Yep,” Oliver replied, his smile growing bigger. “Thank you.”

His words caught Tommy’s attention and his friend eyed him suspiciously. “Are you serious? You’re thanking me for…” dropping his voice, he nervously glanced at their fathers. “Ollie, she went all MMA on your coffee maker.”

“I know. We are progressing, though. Last time she was that pissed at me, she went after my car.”

“Baby? She attacked Baby?!”

Oliver smiled fondly at the memory. “She didn’t cause any harm, just made sure I got the message.”

Tommy stayed silent for a while then whistled softly. “You can’t charm her.  You can’t fool her. You can’t outsmart her. Man… I’d say you’re screwed.” 

Chapter Text

"Cats In The Cradle"

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

 

 

“So, I heard about your success in Sorora. That’s some good job, Oliver. I know Andrew, he can be a real pain in the ass. We never really got along but he’s a force to be reckoned with,” Malcolm congratulated Oliver, raising his glass of water at him. They had spent a good part of the afternoon discussing their cogeneration project, as well as the current state of business and finances in the country. 

Before Oliver could open his mouth, Robert interrupted him. “Yes. That’s some good work, but as the saying goes let’s not count our chickens before they’re hatched. Until I have his signature on a contract, he could still change his mind.”  

Oliver locked his jaw, nodding non-committedly while averting his father’s eyes. 

Tommy, sensing the discomfort, stood up from his chair. “Well, I think maybe we should let Ollie work a bit after his two-week road trip?” he asked the older men. 

“You’re right. Thank you for your time, Oliver.“ Malcolm stood as well, alongside Robert. 

“Any time. If you need more information, just let me know. Felicity would gladly help if you have any questions.” 

“Felicity?” Robert asked, confused. “Your assistant?” 

“Yes. She is the one who actually came up with the original concept,” Oliver explained, opening the door leading to his office. 

“I remember now. Walter mentioned her a few weeks ago. I didn’t know your assistant had any background in sciences.” 

“She is an MIT graduate. Only ended up working with me because of… it doesn’t really matter. Anyway, Malcolm, if you need anything else, just let me know. I can guarantee you Felicity will explain things in a better way than our Head of Applied Sciences.” Oliver shook Malcolm’s hand as he held the door open. 

“I won’t hesitate, then. Have a good day.” Malcolm and Robert walked towards the elevator, still deep in talk. It suddenly dawned on him how much both men relied on each other. Oliver had grown up with Malcolm and Robert constantly visiting each other, and locking themselves in his father's office, but even now that both companies were thriving, they still spent a lot of time together.

Tommy slapped his friend on the back. “We need to do something later this week. Let me know when you have time for dinner or drinks.” 

“Will do,” Oliver smiled as he watched him stopping by Felicity’s desk.

 “Miss Felicity, you have, once again, brightened my day. I think I might have missed you more than my best friend. We really should go out for coffee one of these days. Get to know each other. Maybe work on your anger management?” Tommy asked innocently. 

Oliver leaned against the wall, eyeing his assistant who was tilting her head at Tommy and glaring at him. 

“Thank you for the offer, Mister Merlyn, but I’d rather work on it with my boss.” 

As Oliver felt a smile growing on his lips at her innuendo, Tommy raised his eyebrows. 

Felicity squeezed her eyes shut, a slight blush covering her cheeks. “That’s not what I meant. At all.” 

“I can’t believe I wasted my time with all of my best lines while all I had to do was ask you to get me coffee,” Tommy sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets. 

Felicity quirked an eyebrow. “Wow. You mean all those cheesy lines you’ve been giving me since I started working here were actually the best you could do?” 

Tommy grimaced, “Ouch.” 

With a small satisfied smile, Felicity went back to her computer. “Have a good day, Mister Merlyn.” 

Tommy laughed lightly, shaking his head. “Good day to you too, Miss Felicity.” With one last glance at his best friend, he rejoined his father in front of the elevator. Oliver made his way back to his office, stopping in front of the giant windows besides his desk. The elevator had barely closed that he heard the familiar sound of her heels clacking furiously on the marble. Knowing she couldn’t see his face, he let out a smile, keeping his eyes on the view ahead of him. Showtime. 

“I had one rule. One rule!” she shouted as she stormed into his office. 

Wiping the smile off his face, Oliver turned around and asked innocently, “about?” 

She narrowed her eyes at him, taking a deep breath. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not here to bring you drinks. Especially when I’ve been trying to catch up with all the work while you were gone most of the day!” 

“I’m sorry. I guess it slipped my mind,” Oliver tried to placate her, sitting on his desk. 

Felicity eyed him suspiciously. “It slipped your mind?” 

“Yep. I guess I was too focused on finding a way to get you to talk to me?” 

She crossed her arms on her chest. “I talk to you, Oliver.” 

“No. You’re being all professional. You answer my questions and that’s about it. I want my Fe… my friend back.” 

“Oh. You want your friend back?!” Felicity raised her arms, turning around. “The nerve you have!” 

“Felicity, I apologized. I told you it meant nothing and actually nothing much even happened and…” 

She cut him off. “Do you know how many women live in Sacramento?” 

Oliver looked at her, confused. “Hum… No? But what does it…” 

Interrupting him once more, she explained, raising her voice, “thousands. Hundreds of thousands. Yet, you have to sleep with her. You say I’m your friend? And you sleep with the one woman – the ONE woman – you know has been doing nothing but try to make my life as miserable as possible ever since you named me your assistant!” 

Oliver took a short intake of breath. “Felicity, I didn’t…” 

“You didn’t what, Oliver? You didn’t mean to hurt me? You didn’t think?” 

He stayed silent which only seemed to fuel her rage more. “Tell me! You didn’t what?!” 

His temper slowly rose as well with the frustration. “I didn’t do it to hurt you! I wasn’t thinking clearly, I was just… I was frustrated…” 

Felicity snorted, interrupting him once more. “Oh, I’m sorry. Two weeks must have been long, I get it. Sorry if I’m not the right kind of assistant for Mister Oliver-Can’t-Keep-It-In-His-Pants Queen!” 

“That’s not what I meant and you know it, Felicity!” He shouted back at her. 

“Then what?!” 

“I just wanted to find out if Mandy knew something about the peanuts in your food!” 

Felicity stared at him for a second, her face softening for a second. “Oh. Oooooh.” 

He was about to talk when she approached him, folding her arms. “So? Did you get an answer by looking in her panties?” she asked sarcastically. 

“No!” he roared, “and stop twisting my words! I wanted to question her, because I feel it in my guts that Isabel has something to do with it!” 

“Are you sure it’s the only reason? Isn’t it because you can’t get past the fact your father promoted her instead of you?” 

“No. No. But he’s blinded by her, it’s messing with him. He has an affair with her and I can’t bring my doubts to him because of that. I messed up, I know that. I didn’t plan on things to go that far with Mandy but then…” 

Felicity took a deep breath. “But then? Oliver, I think this whole thing is messing with you as well.” 

“Messing with me?” he asked, frowning. “Messing with me? I’m sorry if I’m having a hard time seeing my father promoting the woman he cheats on my mother with!” 

Felicity laughed dryly. “Now that is rich.” 

“What?” 

“Blaming your father,” she answered calmly. 

“Like I shouldn’t?” he asked in disbelief. “People keep expecting me to be like him and at the same time I’m seeing the way he… I am supposed to take over after him, do as good as him, but at the same time my superior is his mistress...” Frustrated, he struggled to finish his sentence. 

“Alright. I get it,” she said, stepping next to him. “What I would like to know though is…  Why do you blame him, Oliver? You’re doing exactly the same. You’re behaving just like him. Even in your personal life.” 

Oliver opened his mouth but Felicity held out a hand. “No. This is the time where I talk and you listen. Until me, you picked assistants you knew you could screw between meetings. You would have never hired me if your mother hadn’t been pestering you. You probably would still see me as the girl with the glasses if this whole mess with Isabel hadn’t happened, looking for the first excuse to get me out of your way.” 

Oliver tried to interrupt her but she stopped him once more, her eyes menacing him. “Oh, no. You wanted me to talk, and I am still talking.” 

Pacing in front of him, she started counting on her fingers. “Your father sleeps with Isabel then promotes her; you hire assistants then sleep with them. Your father cheats on your mother? You cheat on your long-time girlfriend. You want people to stop expecting you to walk into your father’s steps? Then be different! Don’t be the next Queen! Be Oliver! You are so pissed that people expect you to act like your father while all you’ve been doing ever since I met you is behaving exactly like him!” Stopping for her breath, she looked at him, her eyes suddenly softening. His shoulders slumped as he rested his hands on his desk, bowing his head. 

“Oliver…” she said softly as she sat on the desk next to him, putting her hand on his back. “You could do so much good. For this company, for this city. You care about them. You are passionate, driven when it’s something you believe in. I know it, I’ve seen it first-hand. You don’t have to be like him to be a good leader. You are one naturally. You just have to find a different way.” 

“I feel useless. I can’t tell him about our doubts, I can’t confront her directly. And I was doing OK with it but then… I saw you on the floor and… I had to do something, Felicity. Anything. I swear I was just going to make sure she made it safely to her room. Then… I just…” he trailed off, not willing to admit what had pushed him to kiss her. 

“You just did what you've always done,” she quietly said. 

He raised his head, looking at her, feeling terribly ashamed of his behavior. “Yes.” 

She smiled reassuringly at him and nudged his shoulder with her own, trying to lighten the mood. “Good thing I bought you these condoms, I guess” 

Oliver chuckled. “I didn’t need them. We didn’t go that far.” 

“But Mandy said… well…” Frowning, she looked at him and seeing the truth in his eyes she groaned. “That bitch!”

Oliver laughed, relieved to see that his Felicity was back. He glanced at his watch, seeing that it was past 4. “You should go. Go home, get some rest.” 

“It’s not even 5 yet,” she protested as she grabbed his wrist to check the time for herself. 

“You worked almost all weekend. You already have plenty of comp time." 

She bit her lips, looking at him hesitantly. Only then did he notice the dark circles under her eyes.

“Felicity. I mean it. You were in a hospital not 72 hours ago. Go home.” 

“But we need to work on You-Know-Who. And I’m already taking Friday off,” she whispered, her eyes frowning. 

He smiled softly at her stubborn expression. “We will. Tomorrow. I cleared my schedule in the morning. I’ll be there early. Even if you seem to forget it sometimes, I’m the boss here.” He lightly tapped her nose with his index, “and I’m telling you your work day is over.” 

Sighing, she finally got up from the desk. “I really need to stop by the supermarket anyway.” 

He watched her as she made her way to her desk, quickly gathering her belongings. She stopped by his door with her coat on her arm. “See you tomorrow, then." 

“See you tomorrow, Felicity,” he smiled back at her as he sat down on his chair. He still had a few things to do before calling it a day as well, including giving his last notes to the legal department that was in charge of putting up the contract he was going to send to Andrew Backstone. 

 

 

He was scribbling a few notes on the first draft when a small knock on his door interrupted him. Surprised, he stood up, greeting his visitor: 

“Mom!” Smiling, he quickly walked up to her, leaning to kiss her cheek. “What are you doing here?” 

“I just wanted to stop by and congratulate my son. I didn’t get to see you last night, you were already in bed when I came back home.” 

Oliver felt the tip of his ears blushing. “It’s not officially done, yet.” 

“I am proud of you nonetheless.” She lightly patted his cheek before taking a seat on the sofa. He followed her, sitting on the opposite chair. “I hope I’m not disturbing you? I stopped by ten minutes ago but you seemed… busy with your assistant.” 

Oliver frowned. “Why didn’t you interrupt us?” 

“Well… judging by the loud talking, I assumed it was better to come back later… I assume you are going to need a new one?” 

“A new what?” he asked, confused. 

“Assistant. I know what I’ve said before but you’ve clearly changed. If you need a new assistant, I’m sure you can…” 

Oliver cut her off. “What?! I don’t… No way,” he laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea. “I’m not getting a new assistant.” 

Firing Felicity? Firing Felicity?! He'd probably fire himself first. He needed her way too much.

Moira perked an eyebrow. “Are you sure? Because from what I was seeing, or rather hearing, she didn’t really seem to behave like a professional assistant.” 

Oliver shook his head. “You caught us at a bad time. We disagreed on something, and our tempers got in the way. That’s it. She is brilliant. There is no way I could fire her. It’s… it’s Felicity,” he finished, chuckling to himself. 

His mother looked at him intensely, tilting her head. “Very well. If you’re sure…” 

“Yep. I am. Don’t worry, mom. We have an unusual relationship but… it works. We make a good team.” 

Moira smiled. “I’m glad to hear it.” 

She stayed silent for a couple of seconds, her eyes travelling around his office. 

Noticing her unusual behavior, Oliver asked quietly, “there’s something else you would like to tell me about, isn’t there?” 

Moira let out a small smile as she looked at her son. “Yes, there is” She took a deep breath,adding, “Oliver, I know things are bad between you and your father. And I think I know why.” 

Oliver stood up and started pacing. “Mum… I’m not sure it’s a good idea to talk about this. It’s between me and dad.” 

“No. Oliver. I know it has a lot to do with Isabel,” Moira explained calmly, her tone free of any passion. 

That caught his attention and he stopped pacing, sitting next to her on the couch. 

“Mom?” He didn’t finish his question, knowing she would probably understand.  

Taking a deep breath, she continued, “I know she is his mistress. I have known for a while. You can never really fool a wife, Oliver. But that doesn’t mean he promoted her just for that. And you know it. I want you to try to get past it. Whatever happens between your father and me… it is between your father and me. I don’t want it to damage your relationship with him.” 

Oliver stared at her for a second, at loss for words. “You are defending him?"

“I am defending my family, Oliver. He has always been a good father.” 

 “I can’t believe I’m hearing that,” he cut her off, not believing his ears. How could his mother defend him?!

“Hear me out, please. He made mistakes. He probably still makes some. But he tried, and is still trying, to fix them. You weren’t ready for that position, were you?” 

“No, but that’s beside the point! He could have picked anyone… anyone else but her!” 

She sighed. “He chose the best candidate for the company. It’s his responsibility to make sure that the company you and Thea will inherit one day is as thriving as can be.” 

“But… how can you be OK with that? He cheats on you with her and she’s a top executive of the company you helped him build!” 

Moira’s eyes hardened. “Oliver. Like I told you… what happens between your father and me is our business. Not yours. It is our marriage. It might not be perfect, but it’s none of your concern how we choose to live it as long as it doesn’t impact your and your sister's lives. I want you to learn how to separate our private life from your job. Because that’s what you will have to do once you take over for your father.” 

Probably realizing he was still processing her words, she stood up. “I am going to leave you to your work. Don’t be late for dinner.” 

Oliver didn’t even have the chance to gather his thoughts that she was already gone, leaving him with more questions than answers. 

He stayed on the sofa for a couple more minutes, trying to make sense of their conversation. Sighing, he finally stood up, willing to put that in the back of his head for the moment. He still had to finish reading through the Backstone contract. He could deal with his parents later. 

 

 

It turned out he didn’t get much time to process everything his mother had told him. His father asked to talk to him as soon as dinner was over. Willing to at least try to honor his mother’s wishes, he walked into Robert’s study with the intention of staying calm no matter the cost. 

“Oliver. Good. Have a seat,” Robert welcomed him, pointing to one of the leather chairs that was opposite his desk. 

Oliver narrowed his eyes and walked to the sofa instead, intending on having a conversation from equal to equal this time. He had lost count of the amount of times he had been summoned into the patriarch’s office to be scolded about his behavior. It’s not going to happen this time, dad. 

Robert raised an eyebrow at the movement but, after a moment of thought, stood up and walked to Oliver, taking a seat opposite from him. 

“I’m listening.” Oliver made a gesture with his hand, inviting his father to start the conversation. He still didn’t feel like he had much to tell him but was willing to hear out whatever he had to tell him. 

“Oliver. You did a great job during the whole trip. Really. I’m proud of you. So is Walter, by the way.” 

“But?” Oliver asked. 

“There is no but. You were professional, apart from the whole drama where you didn’t want to use the plane anymore. It didn’t show a lot of maturity,” Robert scolded him.

Oliver huffed out a laugh. “You might want to reconsider your definition of ‘there is no but’.” 

“You can’t deny that it might have painted you as an heir throwing a temper tantrum."

Oliver paused, a smirk appearing on his face, but kept silence. He had walked inside this office willing himself to stay calm and hear his father out. He wanted them to be able to have an adult discussion, but that didn't mean it was easy.

Robert continued, “Let’s not dwell on that; what is done is done. The legal department will be sending your revised contract tomorrow. As soon as we get it back, it will be officially announced. I’m proud of what you did there. I hear there had been a lot of obstacles for you.” 

“You mean like your mistress trying to sabotage me?” Oliver snapped back, regretting his words as soon as they had left his mouth. 

“What are you even talking about?” Robert asked, frowning. 

“She changed the first meeting without letting me know first-hand. It was good that I was prepared and that Felicity had set up all the tech beforehand because I honestly don’t know how I could have carried out a presentation if I had not been able to use said presentation. It was supposed to be a meeting like we always have. Executives, assistants. Head of departments. Not Isabel, Bradford, and I. I lacked support. The company lacked support.” 

“Isabel told me about this decision. I understood her reasons. The warier the backer, the more careful you have to be, Oliver. That wasn’t sabotaging. It might not have been the best call, but I’m sure she was confident you could handle it. Isabel cares for this company. She would never do anything to cause it any harm." 

Oliver nodded, knowing deep down that it would be pointless to argue. He had already shared too much.

“Did you set up mum to talk to me?” he changed the topic. 

“No. But your mother is a smart woman. She has your best interest at heart and so do I, even if you don’t understand it yet.” 

Robert stood up and walked to the window, staring into the Mansion’s garden. It was mostly dark, but some lights were still on, basking everything in a small glow. 

“I am not above admitting my mistakes, Oliver. I am trying to fix them.” 

“What mistakes exactly?”

“I gave you everything on a silver platter, thinking you would naturally walk in my footsteps and become what the company needed. I gave you too much, too soon. I had to put the brakes on and let you earn your place. You will never appreciate it if I don’t.” 

Oliver stayed silent for long minutes, mirroring his father’s attitude. He finally stood up and went to the door. He paused there, hesitating. A part of him wanted to leave, but there was also a small voice in his head encouraging him to say out loud what he had been thinking more and more lately. He finally made up his mind as his eyes fell on a family portrait on the wall.

“I did try, dad. To be like you. To walk in your footsteps. That’s all I’ve been trying to do for as long as I can remember. I went to the same college you did. I took on the same sports you did. I loved the same cars, same clothes, same wine. I dated women that you would have probably dated as well if you’d been given the chance. My best friend is your best friend’s son.” He huffed out a humorless laugh, shaking his head bitterly. “Hell, I even drink scotch even though I don’t like it… So if you think you failed at making me the next you… Then I’m glad you did. Because I don’t think I want to be like you. And maybe it’s time I stop trying.”

 

 He opened the door and left the room, not seeing the regret in his father’s eyes.

Chapter Text

"It's Time"

 

 

So this is what you meant
When you said that you were spent
And now it's time to build from the bottom of the pit
Right to the top
Don't hold back
Packing my bags and giving the academy a rain-check

I don't ever wanna let you down
I don't ever wanna leave this town
'Cause after all
This city never sleeps at night

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

So this is where you fell
And I am left to sell
The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell
Right to the top
Don't look back
Turning to rags and giving the commodities a rain-check

I don't ever wanna let you down
I don't ever wanna leave this town
'Cause after all
This city never sleeps at night

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

This road never looked so lonely
This house doesn't burn down slowly
To ashes, to ashes

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Now don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

It's time to begin, isn't it?
I get a little bit bigger but then I'll admit
I'm just the same as I was
Don't you understand
That I'm never changing who I am

 

 

When Felicity walked into her office that Tuesday morning, the sun was already high in the sky. It was one of those beautiful spring days and it seemed like the rest of the week was going to be just as sunny. The smile she was wearing matched the sky as she made her way to her desk, surprised to see Oliver already there.

“Wow. You’re here really early!”

He raised his head, a smile already forming on his lips. “I do keep my promises, sometimes.”

“That’s good to know,” she teased him.

There was still some lingering tension between them, but both of them were determined to work past it and trying to get their relationship to the same state it was before that fateful Saturday night.

“Dig should be here in a couple of minutes, he’s parking the car.”

“Perfect. Did you gather more intel?”

“Yep. A bit. But it’s still pretty foggy, to be honest.” She picked up her laptop and tablet, making her way to the sofa where she sat down. Oliver joined her just as Dig walked inside the room, rubbing his hands together.

“So what do you have for me?” he asked as he sat down on one of the chairs as well.

“OK, so I already told you pretty much everything in the car. I ran more searches and found more of our investors having bought shares in the past couple of months. There are also traces of secret transfers to a Russian company. So far I can’t link Isabel directly to that company, though. She’s good at covering her tracks.”

“Is the amount of stock shares something we should worry about? Would it be enough for a takeover?” Oliver asked her, his head resting on his folded hands as he leaned towards her.

“No. Far from it at the moment. Which makes me think we still have time. They want to stay as discreet as possible, obviously. So it’s little by little.”

Dig chimed in. “There is no big sell off planned for QC shares in the near future, is there?”

“No. No, no. That only happens in times of big crisis, we are far from it at the moment.”

Felicity chewed on her lower lip. “If only I could find a connection between Isabel and this Russian company, it would be enough to take to your dad. Or at least to Walter.”

Oliver smiled softly at her. “Hey. You already found out so much. I would still be completely oblivious to that if it wasn’t for you. Now at least we know where to look.”

Felicity turned to Dig. “Could you go through the security files? I think some are still on paper – God help me. Especially the ones with special missions asked for bodyguards, outside of Starling. Or request of cars, planes. I didn’t find anything about Isabel’s trip to Seattle but maybe she hasn’t always been that careful.”

Dig nodded. “Good idea. I’ll look through it but it will take a couple of days. I can’t exactly spend hours down there without any good reason.”

“My own searches will take just as long, so we should be in sync,” she chirped, smiling brightly.

Oliver looked at them. “OK… what about me? Surely there must be something I can do?”

“Yes. You can start by following Victoria’s advice and stop shaving,” Felicity stated blankly, her eyes dropping to his clean-shaved jaw. 

Dig snorted while Oliver glared at her, raising an eyebrow. “And how is that going to help, exactly?”

“Felicity is right, you know. That strong jaw of yours is pretty damn distracting.”

Felicity and Dig avoided each other’s eyes as they fought back the smiles from their faces.

Oliver looked at Felicity. “You told him, didn’t you?”

“I couldn’t resist,” she smiled innocently at him.

After a few seconds of a very intense staring contest, Oliver turned his head. “Did she tell you about that mechanical bull while she was at it?”

Felicity gasped. “Oliver!”

“I couldn’t resist,” he smirked.

“No, she didn’t,” Dig laughed. “But the pictures you guys sent me were pretty telling.”

It took them a couple of seconds to register his words.

“Woaw what…”

“Pictures?!” Felicity shrieked, covering her face with her hands. “Oh no. This is a nightmare.”

“I particularly liked the message you left me, by the way.”

Felicity slowly lowered her hands, glancing at Oliver who winced. “What message?”

“You really don’t remember?” Dig laughed. “That’s why you haven’t mentioned it… I thought you were just too embarrassed!”

“The night is a bit… blurry.”

“Wow. You were that drunk?”

“Don’t judge, OK? We had had a hard day.”

“So what was on that message?” Oliver asked.

“Oh no, no, no. I’m keeping this. It’s too good to waste it. Perfect blackmail material.”

“What the hell is wrong with you two, keeping things for potential blackmail?!” 

“I like to have insurance. And tease the hell out of you whenever I can.” 

“And I just… Yeah, me too,” Felicity whispered, suddenly very interested in her nails.

Both men narrowed their eyes at her, making her shift on her seat. “And that’s all I’m gonna say on that matter.”

Clearing her throat, she changed the topic. “Sara was also going to do some digging up in her department, but she won’t be back until the end of the week. She’s on a vacation again.” Frowning, she added under her breath, “she sure travels a lot.”

“Yes, she is on the coast with Laurel. Do you know if she's coming back on Sunday as well?” Oliver asked, crossing his ankles and spreading his arms on the headset behind him.

“No. She is coming back on Thursday. We’re spending the night together,” Felicity smiled brightly. “I won’t be here on Friday, you remember?”

“Yep. Don’t worry. The giant post-it you left on my desk didn’t go unnoticed,” he winked at her.

“Well, I know how easily distracted you can be.”

Dig interrupted their bickering, rolling his eyes. “Alright, kids. If that’s all for today, I’m going to head back downstairs. Should I pick up some big belly burger for lunch?”

“Yes!” Felicity nodded enthusiastically as she stood up as well. “It’s been ages.”

“Two weeks,” Oliver clarified.

“Like I said. Ages.” With one last glare, she went back to her desk, Dig following her as he headed to the elevator.




The rest of the week went by rather smoothly. Oliver and Felicity worked hard to catch up with everything they had missed, Dig helping them as much as he could to fill the blanks.

Thursday arrived and just like every other day that week, it started with a big, bright and sunny sky. Felicity woke up to a couple of messages on her phone. That brought a big smile on her face, a smile that only widened when she remembered her plans for the night. Sara was supposed to be back late afternoon, just in time for the small dinner she had planned for her birthday. Her mother was also coming to town. It would be just a quiet birthday dinner, the three of them, but Felicity was looking forward to it. Her relationship with her mother was still strained, had always been. Both women were so different that it was hard for them to really keep in touch. But it was Felicity’s 21st birthday: There was no way Donna Smoak would miss it willingly. She had been disappointed enough that her daughter couldn’t make it to her hometown, having already mentally planned a crazy night on the strip.

Dig knocked on her door, as he always did in the morning since they had gotten into the habit to leave for QC together. He was expected in another place, having been called as extra security for Walter who was meeting one of their investors. He had nonetheless insisted on dropping her off.

She opened the door to a smiling Dig, holding out a carefully wrapped parcel. “Happy Birthday!”

She beamed, stepping aside to let him inside. “Thank you, you shouldn’t have, you know.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he dismissed her objections with a shake of his hand.

Not resisting any longer, she tore off the wrapping paper, uncovering a new purple tablet case. Squealing, she held it against her heart as she hugged him. “Thank you!”

He chuckled, amused by her enthusiasm. “Don’t mention it. Now I hate to be a party-pooper, but we need to get going.”

“Yup, yup. I’m all set!” She quickly grabbed her bag, shoving the new cover inside, fully intending on making the change at work. Once inside his car, he asked her more about her plans.

“Well, it’s going to be pretty quiet. Sara is coming back later today, my mother arrives as well. Actually I am picking them up at the airport, their planes arrive almost at the same time. Then it’s just a small dinner, at that Italian restaurant I’ve told you about. And that’s it!” she laughed. Her plans were quite simple but she was still pretty excited.

“Well you’re not going to make me believe that Sara Lance and your mother who I believe, lives in Vegas, are not going to take you out for drinks!”

Felicity groaned. “I don’t really want to think about this. Cause they probably will.”

“What’s so bad about it?”

“You clearly never met my mum.”

Dig laughed. “It can’t be that bad!”

“… yes, it can. You know how we all get fake IDs to get inside bars and stuff?”

“Yeah, we’ve all done that. No biggie, really. She gave you a hard time for it?”

Felicity snorted. “Please. She bought the fake ID herself and snuck it into my wallet.”

Dig raised his eyebrows, speechless.

“So, now that I’m finally legal… you can imagine how the night will turn out.”


 

Once she arrived in her office, she noticed that the whole place was still empty. Which wasn’t surprising since it was still quite early. She got right to work, quickly losing track of time. She barely noticed her phone buzzing and picked it up distractedly. Seeing it was a text from Oliver, she opened it right away, suddenly wondering why he still wasn’t there.

Running late. Have a lunch meeting. Any messages?



She quickly typed back her answer:

Nope. All good.


His own reply came back instantly:

Good. I’ll see you later.


She didn’t bother answering back, and was just about to get back to her email when another buzz distracted her. Frowning, she glanced when she saw that Sara was trying to call her.

“Sara?” she picked up right away, slightly worried.

“Felicity! Happy birthday!” Sara’s cheerful voice could be heard over a busy background. It sounded like she was in a train station or airport. “I’m so sorry to call you at work, I didn’t interrupt anything?”

“No. Oliver hasn’t even arrived yet,” Felicity assured her, smiling at her friend’s concern. “Is there something wrong?”

“Well, you could say so. Nothing bad, really but…  I take it you haven’t heard the news?”

“Hum… no. Why?” she asked as she picked up her tablet, already firing up her internet browser.

“Air controllers strike. It’s national. All planes are being kept on the ground until further notice. I’m stuck in LA.”

“What?! Did something happen?”

“No. Something about their wages or whatever. But I won’t be able to make it today, I’m so sorry.”

“No… don’t worry, it’s not your fault. When did it happen?”

“Like an hour ago, it was sudden. Really don’t know much more about it. I’m on the waiting list for the first flight to Starling but I have no idea when that will be.”

Felicity sighed. “It’s OK, really. We’ll just do it another time.”

“Maybe your mom managed to catch a plane already? The ones in the air are still being monitored by the air controllers who don’t belong to their Union,” Sara added hopefully.
“I’ll check with her. Thank you for letting me know, I hope it won’t last long.” Felicity quickly ended her call, biting her lips as she was reading the news.

A quick call to her mother confirmed the news: she was also stuck in Las Vegas airport and seemed more heartbroken than her daughter.

“Honey, you can’t spend your birthday alone. Tell me you have some friends in Starling, at least. I feel awful. I had bought that gorgeous little blue dress, it would have looked perfect on you.”

Felicity couldn’t help but smile. “Mum. It’s fine, really. Since we have to postpone it, I might even be able to come home for a weekend in a couple of weeks?” she asked, trying to cheer her mother up.

The high pitched squeal she heard confirmed it was working. “That would be amazing! Why don’t you bring your new friend as well? Sara, is that it?”

“I’ll ask her but I can’t promise anything. She already took a lot of days off.”

“OK. OK. Well, take care, sweetie. Let me know when you can come by.”

“I will, mum. Thank you.” Sighing, Felicity hung up the phone. Well… there go my plans for a nice Italian dinner.

She cancelled her reservation, her mood sinking a bit.

She stayed at work later than she had planned, but Oliver still didn’t show up. "Not that I was waiting for him or anything" she tried to convince herself. Truth be told the fact that he had forgotten her birthday had hurt. She first had thought he had been in a hurry when he had texted her and had expected him to send another one – or even give her a phone call. But he hadn’t. She had kept on glancing at her phone, hoping to see a new message arriving. It hadn’t and after a few hours, she had finally resigned herself. Not that it had helped sooth the pinching in her heart.

She decided to walk back home and stop by a grocery store to at least stock up her fridge for the long weekend. She had just walked out of the shop when the sunny sky shifted to heavy and dark clouds. Three and a half minutes later, her hands full of bags, she was drenched to the bone. Happy birthday indeed.





When Oliver arrived back at QC, the sun was already setting. He had been stuck in a meeting much longer than he had anticipated and he rushed out of the elevator, coming to a brutal stop when he saw her empty desk, cursing under his breath.

He went to put the flowers he was carrying on her desk, grabbing a notepad and quickly scribbling a few words down. He noticed her tablet was still fired on, which was unusual. It started up when he moved it and saw right away the news alerts about the air controllers strike. Frowning, he remembered Dig mentioning Felicity’s mother and Sara were both supposed to fly in that day to spend the evening with her and celebrate properly. Chewing his lips, he fumbled with his phone, hesitating. The idea of Felicity being all alone made up his mind.

He finally dialed a phone number and was relieved when he didn’t have to wait long.

“Hello?”

“Helena?”

“Oliver. What a surprise. Don’t tell me you’re canceling. Again.” Her sophisticated voice sounded just as assure and polite as usual, without a trace of annoyance as if she was just stating an unsurprising fact.

He stayed silent for a couple of seconds. “I’m sorry. Something came up.”

Helena sighed. “It’s the third time this week.”

“I know,” he winced, remembering having canceled on her on Tuesday, having stayed later than usual to work with Felicity and on Wednesday because he had felt too tired.

“You know… this was always a temporary arrangement. We both can end it whenever we want to," Helena said softly, probably sensing his struggle.

Sitting down on Felicity’s chair, he passed a hand over his face. “I care about you Helena.”

“But it’s not enough anymore, is it?”

“It’s not that. You’re great. You’re more than great. I just feel like… it doesn’t…” sighing, he groaned his frustration. “I mean, somehow… it feels wrong now.”

“It’s OK, Oliver. I’d much rather we end this on good terms. At least we can stay friends.”

He smiled absentmindedly, his fingers playing with one of Felicity’s pens. “I think I’d like that. Your father still owns one of my favorite restaurants after all.”

She laughed lightly. “Next time will be on me, then. Take care, Oliver.”

“Thank you, Helena. You too.” He hung up the phone, picked up the flowers and after a quick stop at the catering level, made his way to Felicity’s apartment. She wasn’t going to spend her birthday alone.



The rain was still pouring when he rang her bell, holding his jacket above his head while trying his best to hold the pot of flowers and a small box.

“Yes?” she answered, sounding out of breath.

“Felicity? It’s Oliver!”

There was a small pause then, “Oliver? Queen?”

“How many Olivers do you know in Starling, exactly?” he rolled his eyes. “Could you please let me in, it’s pouring!”

She opened the door for him and in his hurry, he almost knocked down an old lady who was just about to go out.

“Sorry, ma’am!” he cheerfully said, already climbing the stairs two steps at a time. It was only when he was on the first floor that he realized he had no idea which apartment was Felicity’s. He was about to call her when a door opened on his right.

“Oliver?”

Smiling, he approached her as she opened the door wide enough to let him in.

"Happy birthday!” 
He handed her the flowers that had suffered a bit from the pouring rain.

She let out a trembling smile, and he realized she looked almost as drenched as he was. “I thought you had forgotten,” she admitted quietly, taking the vase and setting it down on her dining table.

He shrugged out of his jacket, laying it on a chair and held out the box. “That needs to go in your fridge.”

“What is it?” she asked, trying to peek inside.

“Tsk, tsk… none of that, Miss!” he lightly tapped her hand. “It’s a surprise.”

“Did you bring me dessert again, Mister Queen?” she teased him, her smile turning into a laugh when she noticed his cheeks heating up.

“Shush. But yes, I did.” He quickly walked to her fridge and stored the box inside. “And of course I didn’t forget. I really thought I’d be back in time to wish it to you. I was going to leave the vase on your desk but then I saw the news and well…”

Her smiled faded a bit. “Yeah. Talk about luck, right? Strikes never happen except on my 21st birthday.”

“I’m sorry. If you need to take another day off next week, don’t hesitate, I’ll make it work with HR.”

“No, thank you. I might take a long weekend in a couple of weeks though. Go see my mum.”

Turning her back on him, she sneezed violently. “I’m sorry! I walked back in the rain. I was just about to take a bath when you arrived.”

“Do it. I’ll order some take out. Come on, you need to warm up or you’re really going to be sick.”

“I can’t do that! I’ll just change my clothes,” she protested.

“It’s your birthday. Go take a bath. I still have some emails to check anyway, that would give me the time to do it. And I can order some take out?”

She eyed him suspiciously. “OK. Are you sure?”

“Yep!” he nudged her towards the small bathroom. “Go ahead. Then you’ll give me a tour of your place.”

“I’ll make it quick, I promise!” she said, defeated, but he could see the longing in her eyes at the idea of a long, warm bubble bath.

“No. Enjoy it. You’re the birthday girl. Also I’d like to work in peace if you don’t mind.”

She gasped. “Are you kicking me out of my own living room?”

“… Yes. Your babbling is distracting,” he hushed her away.

She narrowed her eyes at him but her stern look got ruined when she sneezed again.

“Damn you,” she groaned as she walked to her bedroom while he tried his best to hide his smile. And miserably failed. There was something to utterly adorable in the way her wet hair was hanging around her face, the vulnerability in her eyes awakening something in him. It took him a few seconds to realize what it was. Protectiveness.


***

After more than thirty minutes into a relaxing bubble bath – candles included – she stepped into her living room wearing comfortable clothes, her hair in a messy bun on top of her head.

Oliver was sitting on her sofa, watching what looked like an old action movie. He turned his head towards her, smiling, “better?”

“Yup. Thank you,” she answered as she sat down next to him.

“Food should be here anytime now.”

“What did you order?”

“American. I thought that we could do with some comfort food?”

“Good idea. Mac & Cheese?”

“Of course.”

He had barely replied when the buzzing from the bell was heard. Standing up before she could even move, he quickly walked to her door, answering and indicating where the apartment was. Only then did she notice he had taken off his shoes, which he had left to dry under one of the radiators. She finally got up as well, getting her wallet from her purse when he glared at her. “Now, really. You think I’m gonna let you pay?”

“It’s my home,” she protested, feeling discomfort at the thought of letting him pay for their meal. It was one thing when they were on a business trip – she knew he would be paid back. But when they were in her home, it felt… intimate.

“It’s my treat.” He held out his index finger when he saw she was about to argue back, efficiently ending the conversation.

She smiled as she watched him greeting the young delivery girl. She turned around, going to her cupboards and grabbing plates and cutlery. Setting them on the table, she went to get glasses and a bottle of Saint-Emilion she had been keeping for a special occasion. She was just about to grab some napkins from the small cabinet in the living room when she stopped dead in her tracks, her mouth hanging open, barely hearing him.

“There you go. I might have ordered a bit too much, but that will make you leftovers... Felicity?”

She knew she should answer him but was way too shocked to care about manners. All she could do was stare at the piece of furniture that had magically appeared against a wall in her living room. “My secretary. You built it?!”

“Oh that? Yeah. I noticed it was still in a box and I remembered you mentioning you still haven’t been able to do it… I hope you don’t mind?” 

“But… I left you alone for… thirty minutes! How did you even manage to build it in thirty minutes? By yourself?!” she asked in disbelief, her head snapping from the piece of furniture to a very confused looking Oliver.

“There… were instructions in the box, Felicity,” he explained slowly, looking at her as if he was worried about her sanity. 

“And you understood them?!” she exclaimed, still trying to make sense of how Oliver Queen, heir to the throne who had never even heard about Ikea meatballs, had managed to build her secretary.

“It’s just a plan,” he laughed. “I’m not that stupid, you know.”

“Oh my God. I can’t believe it.” She raised her arms in the air, shaking her head in disbelief.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Oliver Queen is a natural at Ikea assembling!” she huffed out. “the guy who will never need to go shop at Ikea… is a freaking natural at it!”

Stomping her way to him, she poked his chest with her index. “We spent one hour on that thing from hell. Dig, Sara, and I. One hour. And you just arrive here and tada!”

“I’m… sorry?” he grinned at her, his eyes following the way the bun was swinging back and forth with every move she made.

Her eyes softened as she smiled back at him. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” Before he could stop his hand, he reached out to put a strand of hair back behind her ear, freezing once he realized what he was doing.

Felicity blushed slightly, her eyes leaving his for a second as she coughed. “Food is getting cold.”

They decided to eat in front of the TV and brought all the containers to the small table in front of her sofa. As she opened one, she burst out laughing.

“Corn dogs? I thought you’d had enough of those?” she elbowed him on the side.

“What can I say? It is a nice memory," he chuckled, grabbing one and biting a good chunk of it.

Still laughing, Felicity put one on her plates, along with some fried chicken and corn. “This is the definition of unhealthy,” she noted as she started to eat.

“Mmhmmhh,” Oliver nodded in agreement, his mouth full. They both settled on watching old episodes of X-Files – one of the only TV shows they both liked. Luckily, Felicity had gotten back her DVD boxes from Boston.

After a few spoons of Mac & Cheese, Felicity put her plate back on the table.

“I’m stopping now or I won’t be able to eat any of that mysterious dessert you brought.”

“Amateur,” he smirked, taking a last bite of corn bread.

After the episode was over, Felicity got up, planning on making some tea.

“Chamomile, does that work for you?” she asked from the kitchen.

“Yes. Let me do it, though.” He stood up, joining her. Her kitchen wasn’t unreasonably small, but there was something about Oliver that made the space visibly shrink. She felt that whatever move she was making would end up touching, or grazing a part of his body. After she had let a spoon fall on the counter for the second time, he put his hand on hers, murmuring, “I’ll do it. Go sit back on the couch.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but he pressed a finger to her lips, “please.” She gulped nervously at the feel of his skin against her lips and judging by his darkening eyes, the contact didn’t leave him indifferent either. Relieved to escape the tension, she quickly padded to the living room, falling more than sitting on the sofa.

Her fingers grazed her lips, still tingling.  She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t even notice him approaching her in measured steps.

Turning her head, she saw that he was holding a plate with what looked like a pie and a single tea light on it.

He smiled sheepishly. “That’s all I could find on such short notice.”

She giggled, her smile growing so big it actually hurt the muscles of her face. She consciously approached him, focused on her target. “I hope I get it in one blow.”

He chuckled, watching her taking a deep breath and successfully blowing the small candle.

Looking at the pie more closely, she squealed. “Lemon meringue pie?”

“Yes. The one from that hotel in Portland that you loved so much,” he nodded, smiling almost shyly. 

Gasping, she looked at him. “How…?”

“I ordered some on Monday. It was delivered early this morning to the catering service at QC. Thank God the air controllers didn’t decide to go on strike earlier.”

“I can’t believe you remember that.” She looked at him in wonder, then shook her head, grabbing the plate and setting it down on the table.

Reaching out for a knife, she proceeded to cut two slices, then put them on smaller plates and handed one to Oliver.

“Well, you raved about it a lot, it’s pretty hard to forget, you know,” he laughed as he took his plate.

Not wasting any time, Felicity took her first bite right away, moaning as soon as the pastry touched her tongue. “Oh my God… it’s as good as I remember.”

She could see, from the corner of her eyes, that Oliver's attention was on her and that he hadn't even started his own dessert. She was about to ask him if she had some pie on her face when he eventually shook out of it, a small blush growing on his cheeks. She wondered what it was all about, then forgot all about it as she took her second bite. Best birthday cake ever.

 

***

They watched another episode, Felicity making fun of Oliver when she found out that he might have had a crush on Agent Scully back in the day. As the episode ended, he realized she had fallen asleep next to him. As quietly as possible, he got up, cleaned the remaining food from the table. He then grabbed some of the blankets that were underneath the coffee table and wrapped them around her.

He tiptoed to the radiator, picking up his shoes, then walked out of her apartment, only stopping to put them on once he was in the hallway. He closed the door delicately, locking it with the extra key he had found hanging on the wall. He quickly walked down the stairs and was relieved to see the rain had stopped. He still hurried to his car, turning the music player on. The trip back home seemed shorter than usual and he sighed with contentment when he parked the car in the garage and made his way inside the house.

Yawning, he silently walked across the mansion, intent on trying to get as many hours of sleep as possible when he saw a small flickering light coming from one of their sitting rooms. He frowned, wondering if Thea was still up and was surprised to see his mother on one of the chairs, wearing a robe.

“Mom? Everything alright?” he asked, genuinely concerned.

She turned her head at him and there was something on her face that he couldn’t quite place. Something that made a part of him want to turn around, go to his car and get back to Felicity’s apartment to share a plate of lemon pie with her.

She looked at him blankly as he approached her. Kneeling in front of her, he put a hand on one of hers. “Mom? Is something wrong?”

“Oliver. My beautiful boy.” She reached out, caressing his face with her hand. “I didn’t wake Thea up.”

His heart beating wildly, sensing that something was definitely wrong with his mother, he held his breath.

“I didn’t want to wake her up. Your father... He's gone, Oliver. His helicopter crashed a couple of hours ago. They said… they said no one survived.”

Chapter Text

"Bitter Sweet Symphony"

 

 

 

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
You're a slave to money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet yeah,

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no

Well I never pray
But tonight I'm on my knees yeah
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind, I feel free now
But the airways are clean and there's nobody singing to me now

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
I can't change
I can't change

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Try to make ends meet
Try to find some money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the things meet yeah

You know I can change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
And I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no

I can't change my mold
no, no, no, no, no,
I can't change
Can't change my body,
no, no, no

I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
Been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Ever been down
Have you ever been down?
Have you've ever been down?

 

 

It was the sun that woke her up. Burrowing herself deeper under the blanket, it took her a few moments to understand why it felt so weird. Her bedroom had thick curtains that didn’t let any light in and she hadn’t been woken up by morning light in days. Not since the business trip, actually. The memory brought up the image of Oliver in her mind and their shared evening. She smiled when she remembered seeing him on her doorstep, hair damp and a pot of daisies in his hand. The image was so un-Oliver Queen that she let out a giggle, but quickly sobered up when she realized she had no recollection of how the night had ended. Searching through her foggy brain, the last thing she could remember was watching an old X-Files episode with him after having eaten way too much food.

She carefully peeked out of her blanket, eyes blinking with the bright light that was flooding her living room. Moaning, she sat up, rubbing her eyes. Her original plans for the day had been a mani-pedi with her mom and some shopping. She definitely needed new outfits, especially for work. Sighing, she got up, figuring she might as well get started with the day.

Ten minutes later, she was sitting in front a fresh cup of coffee and the plate of lemon pie. She didn’t even bother cutting up a slice and had just grabbed the whole thing and a fork. She was taking her time, savoring each bite in the comforting silence of her apartment.

The idea that Oliver had made sure she would get that dessert for her birthday pleased her more than she had let him know. The sole fact that he had remembered had touched her, let alone that he had arranged, God knows how, for her to get one on her birthday. The fact that he had ordered it on Monday hadn’t escaped her attention. Monday had been rough for them, with their big argument and the whole coffee maker massacre. Deep down, she knew she probably didn’t have the right to react the way she had reacted; Technically he was just her boss, free to do as he pleased. His relationship with his father or his girlfriend were none of her business. Who he was sleeping with was none of her business. But the last few weeks had deepened their relationship, and an honest friendship had blossomed.

When she had seen Mandy walking out of that bedroom, messy hair and shoes in hand, she had felt betrayed… and foolish. Betrayed because Mandy had always been incredibly bitchy to her. Foolish because she had forgotten she didn’t have the right to care. Oliver was her boss and even if they were on friendly terms, he didn’t owe her anything. So, when Monday morning had arrived, she had been hell bent on keeping her relationship with him the way it should have stayed: professional. She had spent Sunday building up her wall, despite the nagging little voice in her head that kept telling her it might be too late for that.

The hurt she had felt didn’t come from a place of friendship. She had been ashamed of the first thought that had come to her mind once she had walked back to her room: “Why her? We spent two nights in the same bed and he hasn’t tried anything.” She had shaken her head, horrified at herself for even thinking it. He was involved with another girl, he was her boss. Was it just self-esteem? She wasn’t the most confident woman when it came to relationships and body image, and it had brought back memories of high school, when she was too young, too skinny, too flat, not pretty enough.

Or was it something else?

The talk they had had on Monday had cleared the air and allowed her to speak her mind. But by doing so, Oliver had let her see a part of himself he held hidden to most; Oliver unsure of himself,  lacking confidence and direction. The Oliver who still wasn’t sure who he was. The vulnerable man under the façade. And, just like that, her wall had crumbled. Her anger had died, replaced by the urge to comfort him and bring back a smile on his oh-so-charming face.

Yet, the easy-going relationship they have had for the last couple of weeks had suffered. They were friendly again, but there was a lingering awkwardness between the two of them. Felicity, by being so angry at him, had shown him how much she cared. Oliver, by being so eager to get her back the way he had gotten to know her, had shown her how much he needed her. It had created a deeper, more intimate bond between the two of them. One they might not have been ready to face just yet.

As she drank a sip of coffee, letting the mug warm her hands, she let her mind wander back to last night.  Despite the fact that they had spent most of the past two weeks constantly with each other, seeing him in her apartment, in such domestic surroundings, had been something she had not expected. She had been surprised at how much he seemed to fit in her home, how normal it had been to have him around.

She had known for a while now that the Oliver Queen people were used to wasn’t the real Oliver. She had witnessed another part of him, one that was thoughtful, caring and attentive. And it was that part that she was afraid of. She could deal with the playboy, spoiled heir persona. But the softer side of him… that was something else.

“Enough with that,” she said out loud, standing up and putting the pie back in the fridge. She quickly finished her coffee, leaving the mug in the sink.

After a quick shower, she tied her hair, not bothering with make-up. She had planned a day of shopping and that damn air strike wasn’t going to stop her from having a good time, even if it was just by herself. Putting a light jacket on, she grabbed her purse while looking for her cellphone. She spotted it on the coffee table, and was surprised to see a small light blipping. She had forgotten she had turned the sound off last night and hadn’t thought of turning it on again.

She was just about to go through her emails when she saw the number of alerts she had gotten. Her heart beating, she quickly went through them and it took her several seconds to make sense of what she was reading. She fell back on the couch, a shaky hand covering her mouth as she finally understood the dramatic news: Robert Queen was dead.



***



In the end, it was Oliver who had to wake Thea up. Moira was still completely in shock, only able to repeat the same sentences over and over again. Walter had arrived shortly after him and he had been the one supporting her.

As he walked down the hall leading to his little sister’s bedroom, Oliver felt the weight of the world suddenly dropping on his shoulders. He was about to end his sister’s childhood. The words he was about to say were going to make her grow way too fast. A part of him wanted nothing more than to run away, find a place where everything was easy and sweet. That part made his steps smaller and smaller, trying to delay the inevitable as long as possible. Once he stopped in front of Thea’s door, though, there was no turning back. Quietly opening the door, he stepped inside her room. She was a teenager now, but her room still looked like the one of a little girl. She hadn’t gotten rid of her favorite teddy bears or the posters of some random boyband. He halted at the foot of her bed, watching her sleep peacefully.

“I’m so sorry, Thea,” he murmured, more to himself than to her.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, he turned on the bed lamp, causing her to stir.

“Thea…” he called out, his voice still small and unsure. Closing his eyes, he willed himself to be strong. Even if it was just a mask, he had to be strong for his sister. She needed someone to lean on and their mother was not going to be able to be that person.

Clearing his throat, he repeated her name, with a stronger voice this time.

Moaning, she turned around, still half asleep “Ollie?”

“Thea. I need you to wake up.”

“Wass’goin’on?” she mumbled, hiding her eyes from the light. She shook her head, obviously trying to get rid of whatever was left of sleep.

“Ollie?” she asked once more, her voice cleared and more focused.

“Thea. There has been an accident. Dad…” he took a shaky breath, fighting the gigantic lump in his throat.

“Dad? What do you mean?” Thea asked, her voice smaller than usual. “Ollie, answer me!”

“There was a crash. The helicopter. He’s not coming back.” Oliver rushed the words out of his mouth while he still had the strength.

Thea looked at him, confused. “What? No. He called me before I went to bed. He’s fine, Ollie.”

Oliver shook his head. “It happened a couple of hours ago.”

“No. He was fine, Ollie. It must be a mistake.” She pushed back her duvet, reaching for her phone on the night stand “Let me call him, he’ll tell you.”

“Speedy, don’t…”

“Let me call him!” she screamed.

Oliver passed a hand over his face as she dialed their father’s number with shaky hands.

“Come on, dad. Come on.”

Once her call reached the voicemail, her chin started to tremble when she heard his voice. “Please, dad. Pick up.”

“Thea…” Oliver reached out, taking the phone from her hand. It seemed like hearing her father’s voice had broken through the denial.

“He always picks up,” she said, her eyes staring into emptiness. “Ollie. He always picks up. Why isn’t he picking up?”

Oliver put her phone down on the bed, tentatively reaching for her. She looked up at him and she must have seen the sorrow in his eyes, must have sensed that it was somehow real because her shoulders slumbered as she gripped his hand.

“He’s not coming back?” she asked once more as if she needed to hear it once again. As if there was still a chance she might have misunderstood her brother. At that moment, she sounded so young, so fragile, that Oliver struggled to answer her, reluctant to destroy her one last hope.

“No, Thea. He’s not.”


 

Appearances are such a tricky thing. When you are born in a family like the Queens, you are raised to put on a face. It is so drilled into you that you do it automatically, no matter the circumstances. You put on the mask, you hide your feelings and keep playing your part, even when your world is crashing down and you feel like drowning. Both Queen children were dressed in appropriate clothes as they walked inside the main foyer 30 minutes later. Moira and Walter were there, as well as a few police officers who were just leaving.

Moira was still wearing the same robe, staring into emptiness. Walter shook his head at Oliver, letting him know she had been that way ever since he had left her.

Thea squared her shoulders and approached her mother. “Come on, Mom. You need to get dressed.”

At that moment, it was hard to identify who was the child and who was the mother as Thea gently nudged Moira, leading her upstairs.

“Oliver, I am so sorry,” Walter spoke as soon as they were alone.

Oliver nodded, unable to form any coherent thought. What is someone supposed to answer in those circumstances? Thank you? How could he be thankful for anything?

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts. “QC?”

“Don’t worry about any of that. I’ll handle QC and the press. Just be there for your family. That’s all that matters for now.”


 

The rest of the morning happened in a blur for Oliver. Family members, friends, police officers,… the whole mansion was constantly invaded. He was thankful for it because it kept the three of them busy. His mother had seemed to snap out of her trance, even if she still seemed numb. Thea was doing her best, holding her head high and playing hostess. Oliver was keeping the mask on his face, reciting the same empty words over and over again. Faces became blurry, most of them being strangers or people he had never really gotten along with.

It was noon when Laurel walked into the reception room he was sitting in.

“Ollie,” she said, her eyes red and teary. “I’m so sorry.”

She walked to him, circling him in her arms and he felt a bit of the tension evade him; her embrace was familiar and safe. She knew him, she knew his family. Robert and her had always gotten along, probably better than he had himself. He felt a bit of the weight leave his shoulders, felt like he could finally let someone take charge. He had been forced to be the strong one the entire night and being able to be weak, even for a couple of minutes, brought such a relief that he sagged in her embrace. His eyes had stayed dry and he still found himself unable to shed a tear but the knot in his throat seemed to loosen a bit.

After a few minutes, he finally pulled away, taking a few deep breaths.

“How is Moira? Thea?” Laurel asked, obviously worried. “Are they holding up?”

“They are doing OK, I guess. I don’t really know. It’s so sudden, it’s hard to tell,” he explained as he fell back on the seat. “Thea seems to handle it better than I thought. Mom doesn’t seem to realize. I think she is still in shock. And I … I just don’t know what to do. The funeral. We’re supposed to plan the funeral, right?"

“Don’t worry. I’ll do it,” she reassured him, patting his knee. “What do you need?”

“I don’t know. Walter is taking charge at QC and we’ve been here all day.”

“Have you slept? Or eaten?”

Oliver frowned. “I didn’t go to bed. I ate last night.”

“Alright. You need to try to get some rest. Go take a shower, go to sleep. Eat something, if possible. I’ll ask Raisa to bring you something light in your room.”

“I can’t, all these people keep arriving, Tommy still hasn’t made it here.”

She interrupted him. “Ollie. You won’t be able to go through with the next few days if you don’t rest. Take Thea as well. Moira, too. I’ll handle the visitors. The three of you look exhausted.”

Even if a part of him wanted to say no, because he felt like he had to stay there, the relief he felt at the idea of someone else taking charge was too tempting. “Are you sure?”

“Yes. If anything happens, I will let you know right away.” She took a deep breath, smiling reassuringly. “I know what you are going through, Ollie. I lost my mom, too. Even if Dinah has raised me all my life, I know what it’s like to lose a parent.”

Oliver looked at her for a few seconds, remembering that Dinah was indeed Laurel’s step mother. Her biological mother had passed away when she was still a child.

She continued, holding his hand between hers. “You are going to need your strength. Trust me. Let me help you. Please.”

He nodded, standing up. He went to get his mother and sister, excusing them under the first pretense he could think of. The three of them went upstairs, Moira and Thea heading to his sister’s bedroom. Only then had he noticed the dark circles underneath their eyes. Laurel was right. None of them would ever be able to handle the next few days without rest.

As he was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling while the bowl of soup Raisa had made for him was still untouched on his desk, he tried to come to terms with what had happened. His father was dead. Gone. He understood the concept, was aware of the implications and sadness, regrets and remorse were already invading him. But he hadn’t shed a single tear. After a couple of hours, he got up and went back downstairs, resigned that sleep would evade him for a while. He quickly called Dig, asking him to get in touch with Felicity so the two of them could at least run things at QC for him. There was no one else he trusted as much as Felicity and he knew he couldn’t leave things hanging until Monday.

He found Laurel in the kitchen, surrounded by papers and finishing a phone call. “That’s perfect. Thank you.”

Seeing him, she smiled tentatively. He tried his best to smile back but was fully aware he only managed a grimace.

“I’ve been in touch with Walter. I called the mortician, made all the arrangements. Your mother woke up earlier but already went back to bed. She just gave me the phone number of your lawyer. I just called him. Funeral will happen on Monday, if it’s alright with you.”

“That’s fine.” He poured himself a cup of coffee, adding, “Thank you for being here, Laurel.”

“Where else could I be?” she whispered, putting a hand on his.


 

Monday came too fast. He didn’t remember much of the weekend, caught in a whirlwind. Felicity had taken over for him at QC, finishing everything for the Backstones contract. Now, more than ever, they needed a strong backer by their side. Even if he was mourning his father, Oliver couldn’t let his emotions get in the way. His mother had been right: he needed to learn how to separate his private life and his job. Especially now that the company had lost its CEO. Walter had been handling the press, as well as the other executives, allowing the Queen family to get ready for the funeral.

After the service, Oliver stood over his father’s headstone for a while. Tommy had stayed behind with him, mirroring the day when he had lost his own mother. The two of them had been young and nothing had seemed to make sense. Despite him being an adult now, it still didn’t seem to make much sense. Robert Queen had always been so strong, so charismatic,… Oliver had always seen him as invincible. He hadn’t been ready to see him as a mere mortal.

“Tommy… could you leave me for a minute?” Oliver asked in a quiet voice.

“Sure, mate.” Slapping him on the back, his best friend walked back to the Queen’s mansion, leaving him alone. 



***



“Thank you, John,” Felicity sniffled, accepting the handkerchief he was offering her. “I honestly don’t even know why I’m so sad, I barely ever talked to the man.”

“You’re sad for Oliver, Felicity,” Dig said with a gentle smile.

“Still. Robert Queen was a dick to his son,” she caught herself, blushing. “Oh my God, I can’t believe I said that. You’re not supposed to talk bad about the dead. It’s like etiquette 101.”

Dig huffed out a small laugh.

She glared at him. “pretty sure you’re not supposed to laugh at a funeral either.”

“You started it. Besides, no one is paying attention to us, low-key employees.”

He was right. They were in a small corner of one of the Queen mansion sitting rooms. They were there out of support for Oliver, even if none of them had been able to talk to him since Friday. A lot of people had showed up for Robert Queen’s funeral. Relatives, friends, business partners. The man was a socialite and well beloved in the community.

“Excuse me, Miss.” Felicity startled at the voice at her back. Turning around, she saw a woman, a friend of Moira if she remembered correctly.

“Yes?” Felicity asked, genuinely wondering why the woman would talk to her in the first place.

“Have you seen Oliver? You’re his secretary, aren’t you?”

“Assistant,” Felicity corrected automatically. “I’m his assistant. And no, I haven’t seen him. Which kinda makes me a bad assistant, now that I think of it,” she snickered, then sobered up once she remembered the circumstances. “I’m sorry. What I meant to say is…”

“We haven’t seen Oliver. That’s what she meant to say,” Dig eventually answered for her. “We are all still quite shocked by the news.”

“Oh. That’s too bad. Could you maybe let him know that he can stop by  my place anytime if he needs to see a friendly face?” the woman asked, fiddling with her pearl necklace. “My name is Nancy, he’ll know exactly what I mean.”

Felicity stared at her for a few seconds. “Hum. Sure. I will.”

As soon as the woman had left them, she turned to Dig. “Is it me or was she…”

“Yep.”

“Oh my God. She’s old enough to be his mother!” Felicity whispered.

Dig looked at her from the corner of his eyes, smirking.

“Oh don’t tell me… No. I don’t want to know.” She drank the last of her mimosa, shuddering. “It’s the fifth one since Friday, you know.”

“Fifth what?” he asked, intrigued.

“Woman who wants to know where Oliver is and seems more than ready to comfort him,” Felicity explained as she looked for a place to put her glass. "Apparently he is ignoring their calls."

“Don’t tell me you’re surprised by women throwing themselves at him,” Dig smirked, grabbing the glass for her, putting it on a table behind him.

“No. I’m not really. I've gotten used to it by now...” she answered, her eyes wandering across the room. Of course, I’m not surprised. But he just lost his father. I mean… I know he is quite the charming man and his smile is the definition of panty-dropping but still.

Dig snorted. “Well. Let’s just hope your panties are well attached, then.”

Felicity looked at him, horrified. “Oh no. I didn’t mean… I mean of course they are. More like glued to my body. No risk of wandering panties with me. Nope.”

“Aww… now that makes me even more depressed.” The voice behind her made her pause and bend her head, groaning with shame. Of course. 

Taking a deep breath, she welcomed the newcomer. “Mister Merlyn.”

“Miss Felicity. Mister Diggle.”

“You know, I was just going to grab myself another drink. Any of you want something?” Dig asked, smiling sweetly as Felicity’s eyes bulged out at the idea of being left alone with Tommy Merlyn. “No? Alright, then. Mister Merlyn.”

“I feel bad about interrupting this very interesting conversation. When you say ‘no risk’ do you mean ‘no risk’ as in ‘Don’t worry, I am wearing a garter belt?’” Tommy asked her hopefully, sipping a Bloody Mary.

Felicity felt her face burning with embarrassment. “That was totally out of context. And no. I mean yes. I mean it’s none of your business. Has anyone ever told you how rude it is to interrupt a conversation?”

“Oh, my sweet Miss Felicity. I would love to show you how rude I can be. But let’s get back to our conversation. I believe it involved your underwear?”

She glared at him. “I was just commenting on the fact that women tend to drop their panties whenever Oliver is around. Or not around, since I’ve had to deal with several ones these last few days.”

Tommy winced. “Mentioning another man when we are flirting is pretty harsh, you know.”

“I am not flirting with you!” Felicity gasped in outrage. The man had a nerve...

“Now let’s not waste time on semantics. Let me buy you a drink,” Tommy charmingly offered his arm, seemingly completely unaffected by the cold glare she threw at him.

“It’s an open bar, Mister Merlyn.”

“I already told you… my father is here, too. You calling me Mister Merlyn is going to confuse people.”

“It’s an open bar, Mister Merlyn Junior.”

Ignoring his offered arm, she let her eyes wander across the room. Biting her lips, she fixed the main entrance.

“He’s not going to show up,” Tommy said softly.

“Hum… what?” she frowned.

“Oliver. He already left. I think all this…” Tommy waved his hand, encircling the crowd in the room, “is a bit too much for him right now.”

“I wasn’t…” she started to deny but the gentle look in Tommy’s eyes stopped the lie she was about to say. “I haven’t seen him… or talked to him since last Thursday. I just… I wish I could help him, somehow. Apart from the whole work thing,” she mumbled the last part.

Tommy smiled kindly. “He is going to need you. He will come to you when he’s ready.”

He lightly squeezed her arm then left her with her thoughts. She had been feeling so helpless during the last few days. Willing to help, but not knowing how. Laurel had been his support, Tommy, his best friend. She had just been his assistant. And somehow… it didn’t feel enough anymore.



***


It was already dark when Oliver drove the alley back to Queen Mansion. He had been driving most of the day, unable to face the questions and empty words he was bound to hear at the reception. He stopped the car as soon as the house came into view, his eyes reaching the windows of his father’s office. The room was dark, unlike most of the rooms that were still lit. He couldn’t remember how long he stayed behind the wheel, knowing he was supposed to come inside. He was supposed to step up. He just couldn’t find the strength to do so. There was a longing inside of him that he couldn’t place.

Closing his eyes, he rested his head on the back of his seat, remembering his conversation with his mother last night.



“We owe a lot to Laurel… She took everything in her own hands," Moira said as she sat down next to Oliver in the sitting room he had found her in several nights ago.

“I know. She’s been awesome," he agreed. Laurel really had helped them tremendously, being an almost constant support for the three of them.

“She really showed how much she cares about our family.” Moira looked at Oliver expectantly.

“Yes… she has”, he frowned, wondering what his mother had in mind.

“Robert loved her very much. I do, too, you know.”

Oliver nodded, remembering the special bond his father had shared with Laurel from the beginning. She had been the perfect next Mrs Queen in his eyes.

“I talked with Walter. We need to show our strength. More than ever. We’ve had to face several blows in the last few months,” Moira continued.

“What does it have to do with anything, mom?”

“Oliver. You know what is the next step for you. I don’t know how it’s going to work with the Board because no one expected Robert to…” she struggled to find her words, “to leave us this soon. We need to be strong, as a family. Walter is expecting a lot of trouble for our company.”

“I know that, mom.”

Sighing, she looked at the both of them with a small smile. “How long have you two been together?”

“About 4 years now.”

Moira paused, then asked softly, “Isn’t marriage the next natural step?”

“… Mom, what are you talking about?”

“You know what I am talking about, Oliver. You need to grow up. You need to be responsible, you need to prove you are mature enough to commit. Getting married is a way to do that, to prove your… wild days are over for good. To prove you are the best bet for QC.”

“Mom, I don’t think Laurel and I…”

She interrupted him. “I know. It’s not perfect. No relationship is. But answer honestly: Hasn’t she been a support for you? Hasn’t she been there to handle things you were not able to handle?”

“Yes. Yes, she has,” he murmured. He couldn't deny it. She had been there by his side but... marriage? Somehow... it didn't feel right. 

“Honey… that’s the whole point of marriage. Having each other’s back. Being partners. And you are going to need a partner. More than you know. Laurel is already a part of this family,” his mother explained softly as she stood up, leaving him staring at the fireplace.

 


Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes, pushing  the memory to the back of his mind. He wasn’t even aware he had started the car again, and was almost surprised when he stopped it beneath a building, not far away from QC. He stepped out of his car before he could change his mind once more and walked up the stairs, entering the building after a young couple, too busy making out to notice someone had followed them.

He was already knocking on the door when he changed his mind, but didn’t have time to turn around when she opened the door.

“Oliver?” Felicity opened her door wider, letting him in.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to… I should have called,” he mumbled, shifting on his feet.

“No. Don’t be silly. Please, come in.”

He stepped inside her small, comfortable apartment and the already familiar smell – green apples – welcomed him back. He sat down on her couch while she was making tea in the kitchen.

“You’re still ok with chamomile?” she asked.

“Yes.”

They both stayed silent until she joined him in the living room with two hot mugs of tea. She sat opposite him on one of the comfy chairs, looking at him expectantly.

He took a sip of tea, wincing as the hot liquid burnt his tongue. “I’m sorry. I just didn’t want to go home.”

She smiled at him. “I’m glad you came here.”

They both fell back in a weirdly comfortable silence, Michael Buble singing in the backround.

“The last thing I told him was that I didn’t want to be like him,” Oliver finally said, startling her.

Felicity put her mug down on the coffee table. “You mean, your father?”

“Yes. We had a… not a fight. More like a discussion. I told him I had tried to be like him all of my life but I was glad I had failed. That’s the last thing I told him.” His voice trembled at the words, and it suddenly dawned on him that those were the very last words he had told his father. 

“Felicity, it’s the last thing I told my father,” Oliver choked up, “that I didn’t want to be like him. He’s dead and I’ll never have the chance to make up with him.”

Felicity stood up as soon as the first tear spilled from his eyes. She walked to him when he eventually broke down, sobs tearing from his chest. He automatically reached out for her, circling her waist as his head burrowed in her stomach, desperately seeking comfort and understanding, knowing instinctively he would find both with her.

She cradled his head, her fingers going through his short hair, making soothing sounds as she let him cry and finally mourn.

Chapter Text

"I'm So Sorry"

 

About time for anyone telling you off for all your deeds
No sign the roaring thunder stopped in cold to read
No time
I get mine and make no excuses; waste of precious breath
No time
The sun shines on everyone, everyone love yourself to death

So you gotta fire up, you gotta let go
You'll never be loved till you've made your own
You gotta face up, you gotta get yours
You never know the top till you get too low

A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry
A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry

No lies and no deceiving, man is what do you loves
I keep tryin' to conceive that death is from above
No time
I get mine and make no excuses; waste of precious breath
No time
The sun shines on everyone, everyone love yourself to death

So you gotta fire up, you gotta let go
You'll never be loved till you've made your own
You gotta face up, you gotta get yours
You never know the top till you get too low

A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry
A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry

Life isn't always what you think it'd be
Turn your head for one second and the tables turn
And I know, I know that I did you wrong
But will you trust me when I say that I'll
Make it up to you somehow, somehow

So you gotta fire up, you gotta let go
You'll never be loved till you've made your own
You gotta face up, you gotta get yours
You never know the top till you get too low

A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry
A son of a stepfather
A son of a
I'm so sorry

 

 

The sun wasn’t up yet when Oliver quietly made his way out of Felicity’s apartment. She was still sleeping in her room when he had woken up with a start, around 4AM. He didn’t even remember falling asleep on her couch, but the irony didn’t escape him. He had been to her place twice, and one of them had ended up falling asleep in the living room each time.

Last night, she had been the one taking care of him because he had no recollection of reaching for the blanket that had been covering him when he woke up.

As he sat down behind the wheel, he turned on the radio, the eerie silence being uncomfortable for him. The last thing he wanted was to be alone with the thoughts and memories of last night. A part of him was embarrassed by his break down, embarrassed that Felicity had been there to witness it, forced to comfort him. But he was also man enough to admit it had been necessary. Carrying out that guilt wasn’t healthy and he couldn’t deny that he felt like a bit of the weight he’d been feeling ever since last Thursday night had lifted, making it easier for him to breathe. Still now, he wasn’t sure why he had ended up at her place, why he had driven there unconsciously. Was it because it was the last place he had been before his mother had broken the news to him, before his world had crashed down? Or because he knew she’d be there for him, no matter what?

After a quick stop at a 24/7 coffee shop, he made his way to QC. He didn’t feel like going back to the Mansion and wasn’t feeling that tired anymore. He didn’t stop at his floor, but instinctively went to his father’s office. He felt like he should go there while no one was around. To say his goodbyes privately, in a way. As he watched the floor numbers going up on the elevator display, he let his mind wander back to the first time he had visited his father at work. He was probably around 4 and had been in awe with the size of the building. To him, it had felt like his father was a giant for needing such a tall building. He had been his hero since this day and Oliver had promised himself that one day he would also work at the top floor of the building. That one day, he would be a giant like his dad.

The fact that his father’s secretary had spoiled him with candy had probably played a part as well, though.

He didn’t stop at Robert’s desk and went straight to the large bay window. The whole city was still mostly dark, apart from the occasional light. The air conditioning purring in the background was the only sound piercing the silence. He couldn’t even remember the last time the building had been that quiet.

Oliver stayed there until the sun started to rise, slowly basking the city in its soft light. As he finally stepped away from the window, his eyes fell on his father’s desk and the framed picture of him and Thea that had been there ever since he could remember. The picture itself had changed with the years as they grew up, but the two of them had always been there, on the left side of his desk.

As he closed the door of his father’s office, he finally felt more at peace. His mind was sharper, already focusing on one thing: the legacy Robert had built up his entire life would continue to thrive after his death. He would make sure of it. Nothing, and no one, was going to take that away from his family. I am going to deserve to have my last name on that building, dad. I know I was never the son you hoped for, and I probably never will. But I can promise you this : I will not fail our family.

Once he was in the elevator, he noticed his wrinkly clothes and pale skin. Thankfully, he had a full bathroom and a closet with several changes of clothes in his office. He stayed a long time in the shower, letting the water relax him. He was brushing his teeth, a towel draped across his hips when he heard a familiar giggle. He quickly rinsed his mouth, dressing up in a pair of dark grey slack and a crisp white shirt. He put on a tie, but didn’t bother with the vest. He had no appointments and didn’t feel the need to be fully dressed up. Rolling up his sleeves, he made his way out of the bathroom, ready to welcome his assistant.

He stopped dead in his track when he noticed she wasn’t alone.

She was sitting behind her desk, reading something on her laptop, Barry leaning over her shoulder. Their heads were inches away from each other. Barry whispered something that made her giggle once more.

Oliver knew the two of them were getting along just fine and the rational part of him knew it was right and normal for her to have a personal life outside of her job. Personal life that included friends, dating,… and yes, potential boyfriends.

He cleared his throat as he approached them, startling the pair. Barry took a step back as soon as he saw him, which Oliver noticed with a satisfied smirk.

“Mister Queen! I didn’t know you were…”

“I arrived early, Barry. Call me Oliver,” he answered sternly, directing his look towards Felicity. “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I’m going to need my assistant.”

“Sure. Of course!” Barry quickly picked up his messenger bag, throwing it across his shoulder as he asked Felicity. “Still on for tonight?”

“Yup,” she smiled at him, putting a hand on his arm. “Don’t be late, this time.”

She watched him walking away, then turned towards Oliver, a soft smile on her lips. “I’m all yours.”

Oliver looked at her, blinking. She was wearing her hair down, something he still wasn’t used to.

“Oliver? What do you need?” she insisted as he stayed silent.

“Sorry. Not used to… Nevermind. Could you help me catch up? I saw you left several files on my desk.”

“Of course.” She stood up, brushing against him as she walked around her desk. “I left notes for each one of them.”

It took them the entire morning to catch up with work and make sure Oliver was up to date. Luckily she had been very organized during the last few days and Dig had been there to help her as well, making sure she could focus on paperwork while he managed the numerous phone calls.

She was just gathering the papers they had gone through, making sure they would reach the right offices now that Oliver had signed them when his voice stopped her.

“Felicity?”

She raised her head, watching him fumble with a pen. “Yes?”

“Could you try to find out about the other persons who were in the helicopter?”

She paused, putting the papers down on his desk again. “You mean the pilot and co-pilot?”

“Yes. Do they have families? Has everything been taken care of?”

“They were buried yesterday as well, if I’m not mistaken,” she explained. “But that’s about all I know.”

“Could you check if their families can deal with everything? Funeral costs, things like that?”

“Yes. Of course.” She turned around, walking out when she suddenly stopped. “You mean… legally or… discreetly?”

Oliver let out a small laugh. “As discreetly as possible. I don’t want people to know about that.”

She bit her lips, hesitating.

Oliver frowned. “Is something wrong?”

“No. It’s just…”

“What?”

She took a deep breath. “Oliver, we still don’t know what happened. I mean… what if it’s a human mistake?”

Oliver didn’t answer directly, letting his eyes wander to the window where he could see Starling’s skyline.

“I know. I just feel like it wouldn’t be right to have two families struggling while we…” he stopped himself. “Whatever happened wasn’t the fault of those families.”

She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment then nodded her head. “I’ll get to it as soon as I can.”

He smiled at her, holding her gaze. “Thank you, Felicity.”

And at that moment, she probably knew what he was thanking her for. It had little to do with her hacking skills or how good of an assistant she was.

“There really is no need to thank me, Oliver,” she blushed under his stare, playing with the files she was holding in her arms, but didn't tear her eyes away. It was the sudden ping of the elevator that finally shook her of her trance.

“Alright, alright, alright,” Dig’s booming voice reached them before he was even in sight. “I brought food, people.”

They were halfway through their meal when Dig approached a topic he had been avoiding for a few days.

“Oliver, I hate to bring this up, now but… I talked to Sara and she found more info about Isabel. I don’t know if now is the right time or…”

Oliver frowned as he realized that the whole Isabel situation had completely escaped his mind. “No. Go ahead.”

“Isabel worked as an intern for a Russian-based company, Stellmoor International.”

Felicity paused, her hand holding a fry mid-air. “What? I never found that!”

“Sara only heard Mark talking about it. It’s not in her resume or anything. It was while she was still a student, apparently.”

Oliver, taking advantage of Felicity’s distraction, quickly grabbed her fry and popped it in his mouth. That was enough to get her attention.

“Hey! By all means, don’t mind me!”

“It was my fry, to begin with,” Oliver chuckled.

“I was holding it, that makes it mine!”

“Next time, why don’t you just order some instead of stealing mine?” Oliver snorted, trying to steal one of her pickles.

She slapped his hand. “Don’t you dare take my pickles!”

“Ouch!” he looked at her, shocked.

She glared at him while moving her plate away from him.

“You’ve been eating my fries ever since the first day we started to order at Big Belly Burger and I can’t even have one of your pickles?!” he asked in disbelief before turning his head to Dig. “Help me there!”

Dig raised his hands. “Oh no. I’m not getting between Felicity and her food.”

“Wise man,” Felicity approved, throwing one last dirty look at her boss. “Anyway… I kept track on Isabel but she hasn’t done much since last week… even her phone calls have been scarce. No suspect email, nothing.”

Oliver swallowed the last bite of his burger. “Well… she lost him, too.” He quickly changed the topic. “Which reminds me, there is a Board meeting tomorrow, Felicity.”

She raised her eyebrows, sharing a look with Dig. “I didn’t get a memo?”

“It’s… more like an emergency meeting. They are probably going to name Walter official CEO, at least for the time being.”

“Oh.”

Dig wiped his hands on a napkin, throwing it away in the paper bag that had held their food. “And you’re OK with that?”

Oliver thought for a moment. “Yes. Walter is the most stable candidate for this. It’s the best option for QC. Our family trusts him.”

“Will you need me here? For the Board meeting, I mean?” Felicity asked as she shoved the rest of her meal in the paper bag as well while Dig stood up to throw away their leftovers.

“Yes. I’ll have to be there to represent the Queen family. I’d feel better if you were there, too.”

She smiled fondly. “Sure.”

“Hum… guys?” Dig asked them from the conference room.

“Yes?” they both replied at the same time.

“What the hell happened to the coffee maker?!”

Felicity pinched her lips, avoiding his eyes while Oliver fought back a smile. “Let’s just say that Felicity had an argument with it last week.”

Dig stared at him for a few seconds, then looked at a blushing Felicity who was doing her best to avoid looking at any of them.

“And?” Dig asked once more, expecting more explanations.

“Well… she obviously won,” Oliver winked at her.

Grinning, Felicity stood up after checking her watch. “You have your video call with Andrew Backstone in five minutes. I’ll make sure you are not interrupted, just let me know if you need anything.”

Oliver smiled at her. “Thank you, Felicity.”

 

Oliver had been busy with his conference call for more than an hour, which had worried her at first, until his booming laugh had reached her ears. Obviously, everything was going well with Andrew Backstone. She was busy typing a thank you letter to one of Oliver’s business partner who had sent a letter apologizing for not being able to go to Robert’s funeral when she heard the sound of high heels on the marble floor. Raising her head, she saw Laurel approaching, a decided look on her face.

Felicity didn’t even have the time to greet her and ask her to wait because  she reached for Oliver’s office door right away, ignoring his assistant.

“No!” Felicity jumped out of her chair. “Mr Queen is busy right now.”

Laurel stopped, glaring at her. “Excuse me?”

“He is on a very important conference call.”

“Do you know who I am?” the brunette asked, intrigued.

“Hum, yes. You’re Laurel Lance,” Felicity replied, confused by the random question.

“I am also your boss’s girlfriend. Believe me, he won’t mind,” she explained with a smile.

Felicity opened her mouth to reply but Laurel just opened the door, stepping inside Oliver’s office. He glanced at the two of them, frowning with the interruption and held out his hand as a warning.

“Andrew, can you give me just a minute?”

Felicity couldn’t hear the answer but since Oliver quickly stood up and marched towards them, she assumed the older man didn’t mind.

“Laurel, I can’t talk to you right now. Go see Sara, come back in thirty minutes, I should be done.” He gently shoved her outside his office and closed the door. He jogged back to his desk right away, his mind already back in business.

Seeing Laurel standing awkwardly, Felicity took pity on her. “It’s a very important conference call.”

“Nevermind. I’ll come back later.” Laurel turned around, and left just as fast as she had arrived.



 

Oliver called Felicity fifteen minutes later, mumbling over some file that he couldn’t find.

“I swear to God, it was just there! Where did you put it?!”

Felicity sighed. “Oliver, why don’t you tell me what you’re looking for, first?”

“Andrew asked for the blueprints of the new windmill, I told him I’d send him a copy right away.”

Rolling her eyes, she walked to him, shoving him out of the way with her hip. Opening his drawer, she got a red file and handed it to him. “There you go.”

Oliver looked at her sheepishly. “Sorry…” 

They were interrupted by a small knock on the door.

“Is it a better time?” Laurel asked them in the threshold.

Felicity straightened up right away. “Oh, yep. I was just leaving.”

She quickly made her way to her own office, offering a small smile to Laurel as she passed near her. The brunette returned a small polite smile that seemed more forced than natural.

Oliver stood up as well to close the door behind her, leaning in to give a quick peck on Laurel’s lips, knowing his girlfriend was probably still remembering the way she had been kicked out of his office.

“Your mom said I could stop by, that you didn’t have any plans today,” she explained as she took off her coat.

“No. Apart from that video call, I just have the usual catch up,” he assured her as he led her to the conference room. “Did you need anything?”

“I was thinking we could spend the night at the Mansion? Maybe get a small dinner in your room… do some other kind of catch up,” she said as she approached him, a twinkle in her eyes, her hand reaching for his tie.

“Ah…” Oliver huffed out a laugh. “I have plans tonight. With Tommy.”

“Can’t you cancel? We haven’t spent time together in ages, Ollie,” she pouted.

“I’m sorry but I already canceled last week.” He put his hands on her hips, wincing. “I’m sorry, Laurel. I know you’ve been there for me and I have been a bit distant but…”

“Shhh… I know. It’s not an easy time for you.” She put a finger on his lips, silencing him. “I understand. I’m just trying to help you.”

“And I’m really thankful for everything you’ve been doing. It’s just… everything is so crazy right now. I think I could use Tommy’s help to get ready for the Board meeting.”

“Alright. If you want to stop by my place after your dinner, though…”

“If it’s not too late, I will. Don’t wait for me, though. You must be exhausted, too. The last few days have been crazy for you as well.”

Probably noticing his hesitant behavior, she didn’t insist. “OK. At least, I hope this Board meeting will go well for you.”

“I hope so, too. It should only be to appoint Walter as CEO, but I’d like to be prepared. I’m supposed to represent the family, now.”

She grinned, patting him on the chest. “I’m sure you’re going to do great. All you have to do is show up, look confident. It’s a formality, according to Moira. I just wonder… why don’t you try to get the position? You’re Robert’s son, it should be yours.”

He snorted. “If only it was that simple. Walter has the experience. He’s the best choice, he will keep the company stable, our investors and partners know him as well as they knew my dad. It’s not about what I should have, it’s about what is best for QC.”

Laurel pursed her lips. “Well. I guess I should get going, then? I just wanted to ask my boyfriend out for dinner but since he already has plans…”

“Yup. What a crappy boyfriend you have there,” Oliver laughed as he lead her out of the conference room.

As she put her coat back on, she glanced towards Felicity’s desk across the glass wall. “Will she be there as well for the meeting?”

“Who?” Oliver asked, distracted as he was trying to scan the blueprints.

“Your secretary. Sara keeps saying that wherever you go, she goes.”

“Assistant,” he mumbled then cleared his throat. “And it’s the whole point of her job. But yes, since you asked, she is going to be there tomorrow as well.”


 

***



“Felicity?” Oliver called out from the small bathroom, the next day.

The familiar clacking sound of her heels announced her arrival. “Yes?”

“Can you help me? This bloody tie just won’t…” he mumbled, frustrated. He had been struggling with it for a good ten minutes.

She smiled teasingly, moving his hands out of the way. She untied it, soothing the few wrinkles his unsuccessful attempts had caused. “Someone is nervous…”

Oliver snorted. “Please. That thing is just stubbornly uncooperative.”

“Stubbornly uncooperative? Now that reminds me of someone…” she laughed lightly while expertly arranging his tie.

He felt a small smile turning up the corner of his lips as he watched her so focused on her task. He had noticed she had the habit of biting her lower lip and frowning her eyes whenever she was confronted with a problem. Which happened a lot.

“Aaaand there you go!” she grinned proudly, soothing the silky material on his shirt, checking that the knot was straight. “You’re pretty lucky I am such a natural at dealing with the stubbornly uncooperative ones.”

“I’m fully aware of that, Miss Smoak,” he murmured, his eyes warm and gentle.

She didn't look away, her hand still on his tie while her lips slightly parted, and only then did he notice how close they were to each other. Her breathing hitched up a bit, mirroring his. He saw her eyes hooding and traveling down to his mouth for the briefest second when he unconsciously licked her lips.

The buzzing sound of his phone on the counter startled her so much she jumped a foot back.

“It’s your alert. For the meeting. We should probably go,” she explained, sounding way too breathless for someone who had only been standing for the last couple of minutes. He knew he wasn't any better, having her so close to him having caused his heart to beat faster for some reason he didn't really understand. It was Felicity. His assistant. His incredibly gorgeous, fun, smart, caring, assistant.

The ride in the elevator was awkwardly silent, something that hadn’t happened between them for a while. The two of them were actually relieved when they entered the big conference room where most of the members were already there. They barely had to wait a couple of minutes before everyone was seated around the table.

The head of the board, a fifty year-old man named Alfred, didn’t waste any time. “Alright, everyone. Thank you for coming on such short notice. We all know the reason why we’re here today is not a happy one. We need to honor Robert’s memory and I know that making sure the company is in the best hands is what he would have wished for.” Pausing, he looked around the table, his eyes briefly stopping on Oliver.

“We all agreed that we should have a temporary CEO for the next six months, and reevaluate afterwards. Walter, it’s more of a formality than anything else, since you know…”

“Excuse me, Alfred,” Isabel interrupted him sweetly.

“Isabel?” Alfred asked, surprised at the interruption.

“I was under the assumption that you had already decided who would be the temporary CEO even though there has been no vote.”

“Well...” Alfred reached for his tie while glancing at a few of the members on his right. “It seems pretty obvious…”

“No. No it doesn’t. There are two vice-presidents in QC, which means two potential candidates for the position,” Isabel explained as she linked her hands on the table. “If Walter wants the position, it’s fine. But I would also like to apply my candidacy for the job.”

Oliver stared at her for a few seconds, processing her words. Judging by the silence in the room, he wasn’t the only one.

“Isabel, Walter has been my father’s right hand ever since I can remember. He is a part of QC as much as my family is. QC is a family company, obviously he is going to take over after my father.”

“I’m glad you’re bringing this up, Oliver.” The smile she gave him was tight and didn’t reach her eyes. “That makes me an even more valuable candidate for this position. More valuable than Walter, actually.”

“What… what are you even talking about?” Oliver asked, confused.

“I am pregnant. And it’s Robert’s child.”




 

One hour later


Oliver was sitting on his chair, his tie hanging loosely around his neck as he absently fiddled with a pen, Isabel’s words still playing in his mind. A part of him was hoping this was all a lie but the rational part of his brain was telling him she was speaking the truth. Suddenly, many things made sense. Why Robert had promoted her so quickly in Russia. It was probably his way to buy her silence about the pregnancy. How his father had been so adamant on fixing his mistakes with him: the possibility of another child had probably forced him to confront what he had achieved as a father.  

His father’s betrayal felt even more bitter. Not only did he have an affair, he also had fathered another child.

As a steaming cup appeared suddenly on his desk, he raised his head, meeting Felicity’s soft eyes.

“One,” she mouthed, not waiting for a response as she turned around and walked back to her desk.

He smiled pensively, looking at her as she retreated. Watching her doing her usual routine was calming him, something he had noticed a couple of days ago. There was something oddly reassuring in seeing her typing on the keyboard, scribbling down notes for him, always chewing on the same damn pen.

He lost track of time, quietly observing her as she gathered her things, ready to call it a day. He chuckled when he saw her stepping out of her heels and putting on her panda flats. She put her jacket on, grabbing her bag as she stopped on her way out, a small stack of files in arms. “I need to drop those papers on Sara’s desk. I’ll see you tomorrow?”

He smiled at her reassuringly. “See you tomorrow, Felicity.”

She hesitated, shifting on her feet. “Are you sure you’re gonna be alright?”

“If I say no, will you get me another cup of coffee?” he teased her, raising his now empty mug.

“Don’t push your luck,” she tried to scold him but her twinkling eyes gave her away.

 



She was deep in thought on her way to Sara’s office. The hallways were empty, the vast majority of employees having left at least an hour ago. The silence was eerie, her feet barely making any noise on the marble floor. She was sitting on Sara’s chair, scribbling a note over the files she was supposed to go through – the reports of their road trip, including all the expenses – when a hushed voice startled her.

“Can we talk here?”

It wasn’t so much the fact that someone else was in the room – probably a few cubicles down from Sara’s – that caught her attention. No. It was the fact that the voice seemed oddly out of place for a reason Felicity couldn’t really understand. She was just about to let her presence known, not willing to intrude on anything personal, when another voice responded. A voice she knew very well.

“Yes, everybody has left hours ago. I take it you thought about what I told you during the funeral?” The voice might have been lower than what Felicity was used to, yet she still recognized it right away. Mandy. As quietly as she could, she lowered down on the floor, hiding underneath Sara’s desk.

“I have. You see, I worry about him. He’s not acting normally.”

“I’ve noticed too.”

“I just don’t want him to do anything he might regret later. Ollie can be… reckless.”

“Boys will be boys, right?” Mandy laughed quietly.

“Right. So… you could keep an eye on him?”

“Yes, of course! Like I told you Monday, you need to be careful who he spends his time with. He could easily be influenced."

“I hired someone to keep an eye on him. I only want to make sure he doesn’t do anything foolish. But once he’s inside QC, there is nothing much they can do. It’s not that I don’t trust Ollie. It’s just that… with the whole Isabel drama… and now she’s pregnant…”

 “You’re so right. I think… there are rumors…”

“Rumors?”

“Well… you know. His assistant has no qualifications whatsoever and ended up with this position God knows how.”

“Ollie has always been a charmer. It runs in the family, I’ve accepted that. But this girl…  Moira told me she overheard them fighting pretty bad last week. Obviously she’s not the kind of girl who knows her place. She’s a bit too similar to Isabel in that aspect.”

“Clearly.”

“QC really can’t afford another scandal right now. I need to make sure Ollie doesn’t do anything stupid that could compromise our future.”

“And it’s also about QC’s future.”

“I hate to ask but… why are you helping me?”

“Let’s just say that Felicity Smoak and I are not the best of friends… And I care a lot about Ollie. I’d hate for someone to take advantage of him when he is in such a vulnerable state. Not to mention, you’ll be my boss’s wife eventually.”

“Thank you. I feel better already. You'll tell me as soon as you find something, right?”

“Of course.”

Felicity stayed hidden underneath the desk, her brain buzzing with what she had heard, trying to process it.
Oliver’s girlfriend was paying someone to spy on him.




As soon as she was sure both women had walked away, she stood up, sighing with relief. Crouching down for several minutes was particularly painful for jointures, something she had never realized before. She pushed back the conversation she had just heard to the back of her head, deciding she would tackle it once she was home, preferably with a glass of wine or two.

Picking up her bag, she slung it over her shoulder, quietly making her way out of the big empty room. She was just about to pass the threshold when she bumped into a black jacket.

Taking a step back, she couldn’t help back a grimace when she recognized who that jacket belonged to.

Frack, frack, frack. Frackity frack.

 

 

Chapter Text

"A Matter Of Trust"

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it's just a question of when
I've lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won't happen to us
Because it's always been a matter of trust

I know you're an emotional girl
It took a lot for you to not lose your faith in this world
I can't offer you proof
But you're going to face a moment of truth
It's hard when you're always afraid
You just recover when another belief is betrayed
So break my heart if you must
It's a matter of trust

You can't go the distance
With too much resistance
I know you have doubts
But for God's sake don't shut me out

This time you've got nothing to lose
You can take it, you can leave it
Whatever you choose
I won't hold back anything
And I'll walk a way a fool or a king
Some love is just a lie of the mind
It's make believe until its only a matter of time
And some might have learned to adjust
But then it never was a matter of trust

I'm sure you're aware love
We've both had our share of
Believing too long
When the whole situation was wrong

Some love is just a lie of the soul
A constant battle for the ultimate state of control
After you've heard lie upon lie
There can hardly be a question of why
Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
But that can't happen to us
Because it's always been a matter of trust

 

 

 

“Laurel!” Felicity exclaimed, forcing a smile. “What… what a surprise!”

The brunette stood there, examining her. “Felicity… what are you doing there, exactly?”

“I work here,” she huffed out a laugh, showing off the badge that was hanging around her neck.

Laurel narrowed her eyes. “Last time I checked, Oliver’s office wasn’t on this floor…”

“I had to drop some files for Sara, I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop or…” she caught herself, feeling the blush invading her cheeks and she bit her lips. She closed her eyes for a second, mentally cursing herself. When she opened them, she was facing a cold looking Laurel.
Felicity took a deep breath, gathering her courage. “Listen… I don’t want to get in the middle of… whatever thingy you were doing with Mandy but…”

“But?” Laurel perked an eyebrow, crossing her arms on her chest. “What are you implying exactly?”

“I… I’m not implying anything,” Felicity stuttered. “I didn’t mean to overhear you but I was there and…”

“Now, I’d be really careful if I were you. I wouldn’t want you to start spreading lies about your boss’s girlfriend.”

Felicity gasped. “We both know what I heard! It wouldn’t be lies!”

“You have no way to prove it.”

“If you hired someone, there are traces somewhere.”

Laurel observed her, pinching her lips. “And how exactly will you find this kind of… traces? I’ve heard of your abilities to dig up things… under the radar.“ She shook her head, huffing a laugh. “Don’t make me use the law against you.”

Felicity took a step back. “Are you threatening me?”

“No… just friendly advice,” Laurel smiled. “You’re a smart woman. I don’t think it would be worth ruining your life, would it?”

“Then tell Oliver. Come clear about it with him. Or I will tell him what I heard.”

Laurel narrowed her eyes, looking at her pensively. “You know, you’re not the first woman trying to get between us. They have all failed. Sure, I am not foolish enough to think he never… slips. But he always comes back to me. Oliver and I have a strong, solid relationship. We share the same dreams and ambitions. I fit in his world, in his family. You’re just the girl who brings him coffee. You’re like his new toy, all shiny and fun. Make no mistake, though. He will get bored. And then he’s going to come back to me. Like he always does. Like he always will.”

“That’s… I’m not trying to get between you,” Felicity blurted out.

“The result will be the same, anyway. If you put him in that position, he will choose me. It’s your word against mine. Sure, at first he might side with you. But we’ve been together for years now. You can’t compete with that. Trust me… there will be no choice to make. You will lose your job. And you will lose him.”

Laurel adjusted her purse on her shoulder and with one last sympathetic look, turned around. 



Felicity was still deep in thought when she walked into the nice Italian restaurant where she was supposed to meet Barry, later that night.

The two of them had been growing closer ever since he had started working at QC, trying to see each other as often as possible. He was regularly called in different divisions of the company, sometimes even out of town but they still managed to have a few dates. Or friendly meals. Felicity still didn’t really know what they were exactly. Everything with Barry was easy, and comfortable. They made sense together, shared the same humor, could talk about anything. It had been a long time since Felicity had had that kind of easy connection with someone.

Not surprised to see he still hadn’t arrived, she ordered a glass of water, fumbling with the cutlery as she replayed her conversation with Laurel in her head.

She honestly didn’t know what to do. The idea of losing Oliver had been so terrifying, it had caught her off guard. He had become a friend, a support. She couldn’t really imagine what it would feel like to have him walk out of her life. What had started as a random boss-employee relationship had turned into something more. Their bond had deepened, in a very different way from what she had with Dig. She also knew that Laurel was right: Oliver always went back to her, despite all the affairs, cheating and probably lying. Why would he believe her over someone who had been sharing his life for years?  Laurel Lance was probably the future Mrs Queen and she was just a nobody.

“I’m so sorry I’m late!” Barry rushed to her side, sitting down while checking his watch. “Although you have to admit, it’s only a couple of minutes. I’m making progress.”

Felicity smiled at him. “Don’t worry. I might have asked you to meet me here ten minutes early to make sure I wouldn’t have to wait for too long.”

Barry stopped and stared at her, the menu hanging from his hand. “You did?”

“Yup. I’m a quick learner,” she winked at him, taking a sip of water. “Don’t worry about it. Let’s order.”

They were halfway through their main course – wild mushrooms ravioli for her and osso busso for Barry – when he put down his fork, observing her.

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” he eventually asked softly.

“Mmhh.. what?” she answered, surprised.

“You’ve been quiet most of the night and we both know that is not your normal behavior. You barely ate the antipasti. What’s going on?”

Felicity sighed, dropping her fork in her almost untouched plate. “It’s… getting crazy at work and… I don’t know. I’m sorry, though. It’s none of your fault” she smiled apologetically, reaching across the table to lightly squeeze his hand.

“If you want to talk about it…?”

“Thank you but… it’s just my head acting weird. I probably need a good night of sleep.”

“Does that mean we’ll make a pass on dessert?” he chuckled then sobered up. “Oh, I didn’t mean… I wasn’t implying anything. I was talking about… tiramisu or…”

That brought the first genuine smile on her face since she had left the office as she pushed back her thoughts to the back of her mind, intending on having a good time. Now is not the time to think about the soap-opera that is Oliver’s life.

 


***

“Oliver? Are you even listening to me?”

His mother’s voice shook him out of his trance. They were having breakfast in one of the main dining rooms. Something a bit too fancy for his taste, especially since it was a week day, but at least his mother was in charge of her own home again. The news of Robert’s illicit unborn child had been a shock for her but it had also awoken a part of her he hadn’t seen in a while. She had straightened her back, already forming plans to find the best way to make sure Walter would get the position of CEO.

Moira Queen getting ready to step on the battlefield was much better than Moira Queen staying in her room mourning the loss of her husband.

“Sorry, mom. You were saying?” he asked politely, putting down the newspaper he had been reading.

“We are going to host a reception this Sunday night. Here, at the Mansion,” Moira explained calmly as she cut a piece of pineapple.

Oliver frowned. “Mom… we just buried dad… I don’t think it’s… proper.”

“I know, honey. But we need to show our strength. We need to show that we support Walter 100%. Isabel is not going to wait to make her move, we would be foolish to just stand around.”

“About that, mom… We found out something about Isabel last month. I never got the chance to talk to dad about it, because he probably wouldn’t have listened to me.”

“What is it?” his mother asked, putting down her knife and giving him her full attention.

He quickly explained everything they had found. The secret visits, the stock shares, the Russian company, the phones calls.

Oliver winced as he finished. “I know I should have told someone but we were trying to gather more info…”

Moira shook her head. “No. You’re right. You didn’t have any real proof, and it would have put you in a difficult situation. And I’m sorry that you didn’t even consider coming to me with that. But that’s my fault, not yours” she closed her eyes for a moment “we have to let Walter know. I’ll talk to him.”

“What about Sunday, then?” Oliver asked as she stood up.

“It’s still on. More than ever. We’ll invite the usual crowd and our partners and backers. Of course it won’t be extremely fancy, it will be to honor your father’s memory. We can’t afford wasting time. And, Oliver… it will also be the perfect occasion to…”

“Mom. Please. One thing at a time, alright?”

She patted his shoulder as she walked past him. “We’ll talk about it later, then.”

Staring at his plate, having suddenly lost his appetite, Oliver pushed back his chair. Might as well go to work early.

 



***

When Felicity stepped out of the elevator, her hand clutching a triple espresso that she desperately needed after a night of tossing and turning around, she wasn’t surprised to see Oliver’s office was still empty. She always made sure to be there before him and he had had quite a few rough days. Not to mention, she liked to be able to start her workday in silence, making sure everything was ready and on point for when her boss would arrive. Such a dedicated employee…

Putting her half-empty travel mug on her desk, she startled when she heard some ruffling noise coming from the small archive room that was adjacent to her office. To her surprise, she realized that the door, which was usually always closed, was slightly ajar.

Her heart beating faster in her chest, she tiptoed towards the room, noticing that the place was completely dark except for a small flickering light, similar to a torch lamp. Taking a deep breath, she was about to push the door open when the ruffling sound started again, followed by a louder “thump”. Her eyes growing wide, her mind rattling with the conversation she had witnessed between Laurel and Mandy, she looked around her, trying to figure out what to do.

She still didn’t know what to do with the information she had found, not willing to risk her relationship with Oliver but at the same time knowing it wasn’t right to not warn him. The idea of having to start over again, possibly in another company, was causing her stomach to churn. She had been looking for a sense of belonging, a place to call home, a new life with friends and people she liked to work with. She had found that here and wasn’t ready to go back to her lonely days just yet.

Despite everything, she wasn’t about to let some random private look through Oliver’s personal files. Making up her mind, she looked for a possible weapon to confront him. Or her. Isn’t it kind of sexist to assume a private investigator is a man?

Grabbing the first thing she could find on her desk, she took off her shoes, trying to be as discreet as possible as she stepped to the door. Taking a deep breath, holding out her weapon above her head, she kicked the door open, like cops always do on TV, screaming, “Hands in the air!”

“Fuck!” Oliver jumped, startled at the intrusion, the stack of papers he had been holding flying all over him. “Felicity, what the hell?!”

“Oh my… Oliver!” she sighed heavily, sagging on the doorframe. “You scared me to death!”

“I… I scared you to death?!”

“Why are you here in the dark?” she asked him reproachfully as she tried to switch on the light. “Oh. It’s not working.”

“No. It’s not. Hence my torch lamp!” He directed the light towards her, exclaiming, “what… why are you holding a stapler?!”

“I couldn’t exactly face a possibly dangerous intruder weaponless,” she explained defensively with as much dignity as she could.

Oliver knelt down, quickly picking up the papers and walking out of the room. She stepped aside, letting him pass, chewing on her bottom lip.

“What were you planning to do with it? Staple me to death?” he asked as he put down the files on her desk, trying to reorganize them. “Why didn’t you get a vase or something, like normal women do?”

She glared at him. “Like normal women do?”

“Don’t you try to scold me, Miss I-almost-gave-my-boss-a-heart-attack!” he pointed his finger at her.

She pinched her lips as she slipped her shoes back on. “In my defense, I didn’t know you were even aware there was an archive room in your office.”

It was his turn to glare at her as he collected the files and straightened up. He picked up her coffee as well, taking a sip of it as he walked to his office, mug still in hand.

“That’s my coffee!” she huffed out in disbelief.

“Not anymore!” he dryly shouted back. As he sat down at his desk, he winked at her, a lopsided grin growing on his lips. She found herself unable to not smile back as she sat at her own desk, their eyes still locked.

The ring from her desk phone forced them to tear their eyes from each other and they both settled down to work.

Unfortunately, it also brought back the nasty thoughts that had been playing in her head since the day before. Her mood significantly dropped as the hours went by, and her lips became almost raw from being constantly bitten and chewed on. There was a battle going inside her mind and she felt like whatever she would do, it would end up in heartbreak for her. If I tell Oliver, I am going to put him in an impossible situation. Working together will become awkward, knowing I caused tensions between him and Laurel. And that is if he even believes my word. But I can’t keep this away from him either.

“Felicity!”

She jumped at the sound of Oliver’s voice. Glancing at him, she saw him looking at her in concern.

“Are you OK?”

“Yes. Peachy. Lost in thought. You know how it is up there,” she laughed, pointing to her head. “Actually, no you don’t. Cause it’s my head. Not yours.”

Oliver narrowed his eyes at her. “You seem on edge… if there’s something wrong, you know you can tell me, right?”

His eyes were so full of concern and honesty that she almost blurted everything out right at this moment but a gut-deep fear kept her from it.

“Don’t worry. I’m just… figuring stuff,” she smiled reassuringly, pointing to the notepad he was holding. “What did you need me for?”

He examined her for a few seconds then nodded his head. “We are having a reception at the Mansion on Sunday.”

“… Hum… what?” she asked, surprised. Robert Queen had been buried a few days ago and it seemed weird to have any kind of festivity within the week.

“We need to reassure our backers. Show our support to Walter. It’s not going to be a party, more like a gathering of my father’s friends and partners. A way to show respect to the businessman he was, I guess. At least that’s how we are going to play it.”

“Oh.” She looked down at the pen she was currently holding. “Are you OK? With everything… Isabel… the surprise bun in the oven?”

Oliver let out a small laugh. “Well. I have to be. It just makes things more complicated with even less sense. Why would she plan a take-over if she was going to have my father’s child?”

Felicity frowned. “I wondered about that too… maybe it was like Plan B? Ironic since Plan B is also a pill that… hum. Nevermind.”

Oliver smiled softly at her, sitting down on her desk. “We just need to keep an eye on her. My mother is going to let Walter know. We absolutely need to make sure there is no big sell off. We have to show a strong front.”

“I guess this whole reception makes sense, now,” she murmured. “Do you need me to do anything?”

“Yes. Be there on time, wear a nice dress. You know... the usual” he winked at her then checked his watch “Lunch time. I’m supposed to meet Dig, want to come with us?”

“No, thank you. I already have plans,” she shook her head.

“Alright, then. I’m supposed to spend the afternoon with Walter. Don’t wait for me, it’s probably going to take a while.”

She watched him pensively as he walked to the staircase. Sighing, she got up and walked to the small kitchenette by the conference room to retrieve her lunch from the small fridge. She wasn’t really in the mood for chitchat anyway, she thought as she waited by the microwave for her broccoli pasta. 

***

“Oliver?” she whispered, trying to poke his arm. “Pppssssschhht… Oliver!”

“Mmmh?” he moaned. “Whatisitflecity?”

“I heard something.”

“There is nothing. Sleep.”

“No. I really heard something. Like a scratching sound.”

Oliver grunted. “It’s an old building, it’s probably just the wood cracking. Go back to sleep.”

“I can’t. Oliver we’re in the middle of a town we do not know and they have a corn-dog festival. For all we know, it could be a cannibal festival.”

He raised his head from the pillow. “… what?”

“Tell me it hasn’t crossed your mind.”

“I can honestly tell you that no, it didn’t cross my mind until now.”

She paused, biting her lip as Oliver put his head back on the pillow.

“I’m scared,” she mumbled, her face almost completely hidden underneath her duvet.

Oliver sighed as he sat up on the bed. “If I go check, will you shut up and get back to sleep?”

“Promise. Unless they kidnap you and transform you into junk food. I don’t think I’ll be able to go back to sleep if they do that.”

“That’s reassuring," groaning, he stood up, mumbling something about how he was still wearing his shoes. He made his way to the door, unlocked it and opened it, glancing in the hallway. “Like I told you… nothing.”

“Oh. OK,” she peeked from underneath the blankets as he locked the door once more, walking back to the bed. He was just about to slip out of his shoes when she asked him, “since you’re up… could you go downstairs and grab me something to eat?”

He stopped, and despite the darkness she could feel his stare. “Are you serious?”

“… I’m hungry.”

“You’re not gonna let me sleep if I say no, am I right?”

She smiled cheekily. “I get cranky when I’m hungry.”

Oliver rubbed his eyes, sighing. He put his hands on his hips, groaning, “so you want me to sneak downstairs and steal food?”

“… I wouldn’t have said it like that but… yes.”

“What do you want?” he asked, apparently resigned. She smirked, proud that he probably knew she wasn't going to give up. The sooner he gave in, the sooner she'd let him sleep.

“Sandwich? Like turkey sandwich. Mustard and mayo. Or chips. Banana! Although I’d like a yogurt as well. Do you think they have chocolate? Fried chicken!”

Oliver stood at the foot of the bed, silent, as if he was trying to make up his mind.
“Get up,” he eventually let out, switching on the light on the night stand.

“What? Why?” she whined, clutching the blankets.

“If you want me to raid the fridge, you’re gonna have to do it with me.”

She opened her mouth to protest but he cut her off right away.

“Felicity Smoak, I am not going to take the fall for you.”

Smiling, she got up, putting a sweatshirt on. “You know, I never actually raided a fridge before.”

Oliver quirked an eyebrow at her. “Really?”

“Yeah, really,” she whispered as they made their way down the stairs. “It’s kinda exciting, though, I feel like we’re breaking the law.”

Oliver snorted behind her. “Watch for the steps, Bonnie.”

The sun was just rising, and the whole place was completely empty. They had stayed until the very last moment where the owners had kicked out everyone. It was around 4 in the morning and they had been extremely intoxicated when they had walked up the stairs. They had barely slept more than an hour when Felicity had woken up to her rumbling stomach. It wasn’t uncommon to her, she always ended up hungry whenever she had too much to drink. Unfortunately, she also knew she would still feel hungover the next day.

As they tiptoed around the bar, reaching for the small kitchen in the back, Oliver turned on the light. Both groaned at the blinding light and he quickly turned it off again. Felicity reached for a small lamp over the stove, switching it on. The light was very dim, but more than enough.

As she opened the fridge, humming, he looked for the cutlery. He paused, eyes wide, when he saw her approaching the table with her arms full of food. He watched her as she set everything on the table. Bread, mayo, a tomato, some turkey, fried chicken, pickles, an apple, and for some odd reason a branch of raw broccoli.

Noticing his stare, she asked, “what?”

“Hum. Nothing.” He shook his head, grabbing the bread, making a sandwich for himself as well. As soon as they were done, they put everything back in the fridge, planning to go back to their room to eat their food. Felicity had just turned off the small light when Oliver put a hand on her arm and used the other to cover her mouth. Startled she looked at him, holding her sandwich close to her heart as she chewed on a piece of broccoli, the noise seemingly loud in the deserted kitchen. He pointed his head to the main door, while gently forcing her to step back.

Swallowing, she focused on her hearing and, horrified, heard some voices coming their way.

Panicked, she looked around her trying to find an escape route and shoved Oliver in the pantry that was just to her right. The space was small, but big enough for the both of them to stand comfortably. Oliver slowly and quietly closed the door behind them. The room was completely dark until someone turned on the light in the kitchen and a few ray of lights pierced around the door.

Glancing up, she looked at Oliver, worried.

“Oh my God, we’re gonna go to jail”, she murmured, her eyes wide.

She saw his mouth twitching as he shook his head. “No.”

He startled when he heard a female voice giggling on the other side of the door.

“Shhhhhh, at least close the door!”

Some unintelligible groaning was all they could hear back as the woman shrieked suddenly,“here? On the table?!

The sound of some ruffling clothes and loud, wet kissing reached them as their faces started to mirror the horror of the situation. They were going to witness some very private cooking lessons.

A banging sound on the wall startled Felicity who slightly jumped. Oliver reassuringly stroked her arm but quickly stopped when the sound kept repeating.

Groaning, Felicity hid her face in his chest as the still unidentified woman started moaning. Oliver shifted uncomfortably on his feet when the moans turned into small cries.

Fortunately for them, or for the woman, her cries quickly reached their pinnacle, coinciding with a few deep groans. Felicity let out a huge sigh of relief as the banging stopped and a few whispers were heard on the other side of the door. After a few minutes of calm, they heard the couple moving and shared a look of embarrassed relief. Of all the situations they had been in, this one probably was by far the most cringe-worthy. Felicity could feel her face flaming and she was pretty sure Oliver wasn’t feeling that comfortable either.

Oliver was about to open his mouth when the door trembled as if a heavy object had been thrown at it. Both looked at it, horrified at the idea of being caught.

This time, Felicity was the first one to understand. Shifting her eyes, she mouthed a shocked “again?!” as the banging resumed, this time directly against the door. The voices were now much closer and despite their best efforts, they couldn’t ignore the words.

“Yes, oh God, yes, you… big… bad… wolf!”

Her legs shaking, Felicity slowly lowered herself, sitting on the floor. Oliver quickly followed as they both did their best to avoid looking at each other, waiting for Round 2 to finally be over.

As the woman shrieked much louder, Felicity crossed her fingers that this meant it was going to be over soon. She realized pretty fast that they wouldn’t be that lucky as ‘big bad wolf’ didn’t even slow down. With a trembling hand, she munched on the branch of broccoli she was still holding in her hand, having put her sandwich on one of the shelves.

After a few minutes and another set of loud cries on the theme of the little red riding hood, which included Felicity covering her ears in panic when she heard the woman panting “oh what a… what a big furry tail you've got... between your legs, Mister… Mister Big Bad Wolf!”. Unfortunately, she hadn’t been fast enough to avoid the beginning of the man's answer as he groaned "all the better to..."

Oliver had then dropped his food, holding his face between his hands.

When the couple had finally left the kitchen, after what seemed like hours, Felicity and Oliver had quietly walked back to their room. Oliver had just slumped on the bed while Felicity slipped underneath the duvet, her mind racing.

“I can’t believe it.”

“Me neither.”

“Three times.”

That caused Oliver to pause as he turned his head towards her. “Three? What are you talking about? They had round 1 and round 2.”

“The woman! She had three orgasms!” she exclaimed in awe.

Oliver coughed. “You mean you…”

“Three, Oliver. Three!” she glanced at him, “and believe me, she wasn’t faking it."

She settled back under the duvet, whispering once more, "Three... wow."


BING

Felicity jumped at the sound of the microwave, torn away from the memory. She had completely forgotten that part of their stay in Ivy Town – which wasn’t that surprising considering the amount of alcohol that had been included. She felt her face burning with second-hand embarrassment as she remembered the awkwardness between Oliver and her.  I so hope he never remembers that…


 

***


“Dig! Have you seen Felicity?” Oliver asked his bodyguard as soon as he spotted him in the crowd. Despite the circumstances, the Queen Mansion was full. Even on short notice, his mother had managed to gather everyone around. The mood wasn’t exactly cheerful, but people were supportive and encouraging, understanding that this was a reception in honor of Robert Queen’s legacy.

“No. Last time I saw her, she was with some tall dude talking about… sciences and… stuff,” Dig answered, his eyes searching through the busy room.

“Oliver!” the young, cheerful voice brought a smile on his lips.

“Anna! I was wondering where you were.” Oliver crouched down to the little girl, noticing she had some chocolate around her mouth. He quickly grabbed the napkin Dig was handing him and cleaned her face. “I see Thea showed you the kitchen?”

“Yes. She said I wasn’t to tell anyone though, so you’d better not say anything.”

Dig laughed at the bossy tone of her voice.

The little girl noticed him and reached out her hand. “Hello. My name is Anna Frazier and I am seven years-old.”

Oviously amused, Dig shook her tiny hand. “Hello, Anna. My name is John Diggle and I am 32 years-old.”

“Your arms are really big,” she frowned. “Felicity told me she had a friend who had the biggest arms in the whole wide world. Are you a friend of Felicity?”

Dig smiled, “yes, I am.”

“Then she must have been talking about you, cause I don’t think there can be bigger arms in the whole wide world”

Oliver chuckled as he saw the flattered look on his bodyguard’s face.

“Felicity is my friend, indeed. I take it you’re one of hers as well?”

“Yes,” Anna nodded. “we are really good friends. She loves chocolate.”

“Well, Miss Anna. It was a pleasure to meet you.” Dig shook her hand once more and patted Oliver on the back when he saw Moira Queen approaching, leaning to murmur, “I’ll be outside if you need me.”

Oliver nodded as he welcomed his mother with a smile. “Mom. The reception is great. Dad would have been proud.”

His mother’s smile flickered a bit. “I know. I have talked to almost everyone and they all assured me we had their support and if we thought Walter was the best choice, they would follow us.” Taking a breath, she put her hand on his arm. “I am going to make the announcement in about ten minutes, you might want to try and find Laurel.”

“Alright. I think she just went to the bathroom with Sara, though. She should be back soon.”

“Good. I’ll leave you in Anna’s company then.”

Turning her head to the child who was listening to them she added, “you keep Oliver company and make sure he doesn’t eat too much cake, will you?”

Anna smiled, “I will.”

His mother was barely out of his sight when Anna asked him, “who is Laurel?”

Oliver frowned. “You know who she is. You’ve met her before. She’s my girlfriend.”

“The girl in the blue dress that was with you all night?”

“Yes.”

“She’s nice.”

Oliver smiled at the seriousness of her tone.

“But she’s not as nice as Felicity. And you didn’t share your chocolate cake with her.”

“Anna, it’s a buffet, there is no need to share anything.”

“Still. You would have given your plate to Felicity.”

“Maybe. But Felicity adores chocolate cake.”

Anna giggled as she remembered their lunch a couple of weeks ago. Oliver tried once more to spot his assistant, who had been weirdly distant all night. He had tried to talk to her but she had always found a way to escape his attention. And now that he was thinking of it, she had been weird for several days. There was something going on with her, and he didn’t like seeing her distraught.

“She makes you smile.”

Anna’s voice broke through his thoughts. “What?”

“Felicity. She makes you smile.”

“Hum… She’s really funny. But Laurel makes me smile, too.”

“No. You smile when she talks to you. But it’s just your mouth. Daddy always says a real smile makes your eyes twinkle.”

Oliver opened his mouth, trying to come up with an answer.

“Oh, here she is!” Anna gripped his arm, pointing to one of the entrances. He recognized his assistant in her simple black dress, her hair high in a ponytail, glasses in place. She was parting way with Mr Frazier who was laughing at something she said. “I’m gonna go see Grand Pa. Don’t eat too much cake, I don’t want Moira to be mad at me.”

“Promise,” Oliver grinned at her as he quickly walked towards Felicity. He got held up by one of their partners but swiftly encouraged him to talk to Walter. He finally arrived near Felicity, who was exchanging a few words with Laurel. Two birds, one stone.

“Laurel! My mother is looking for us. She’s near the buffet,” Oliver said as soon as he approached the two women.

Laurel smiled at him, lightly squeezing his hand. “Of course.” As she turned around, he noticed the weird look exchanged between her and Felicity.

Felicity turned around instantly, avoiding his eyes, already walking away.

Frowning, Oliver stood there for a second, wondering what exactly he had stepped into. His head swapped from Laurel to Felicity who were both going in different directions.

Quickly making up his mind, he rushed behind his assistant. “Felicity,” he hissed, grabbing her arm.

She stopped near a wall of green plants. “Yes?”

Oliver examined her, noticing how she was still averting his eyes. “What is going on with you?”

“No…”

“And don’t say nothing!” he cut her off right away, not willing to let her deny it once more. He had tried to get her to talk to him several times but she always had an excuse to avoid the confrontation.

He softened as he saw her flinch. “The truth please. What is bothering you so much?” he put his hands on her arms, encouraging her to open up to him.

She took a shaky breath, her eyes finally meeting his. “Oliver… I just. You know I don’t talk much. Well no, I do talk a lot. Not about me or my family or my life before, though.”

“I have noticed that…” he murmured. “Is it about your family? Is something wrong with your mother?”

Felicity huffed out a laugh. “No. It’s not about my family. It’s not even about me.”

“Then tell me, please. Whatever it is, you can tell me.”

“It’s about you, Oliver.”

“Me?” He asked, confused, taking a step back. “Have I done something?”

She shook her head. “No. I’m just… I don’t want to lose you, Oliver. I know I’m just your assistant but we became friends and I love working with you, I love this life I'm building here, so much more than I thought I would because well duh you had that reputation and...”

He lightly squeezed her arms between his hands, efficiently stopping what was going to turn into a massive rambling.

“Thank you,” she said, relieved.

“I know the signs, now,” he smiled at her encouragingly. “And you’re not gonna lose me, Felicity. We are friends. I know I would be completely lost if you hadn’t walked into my life a couple of months ago.”

Her smile was shaking when she took a deep breath. “It’s about Laurel.”

She then proceeded to tell him everything, words coming out of her mouth quickly as if she had been holding them back for way too long.. The conversation between Mandy and Laurel. The private investigator. The confrontation she had had with Laurel herself. The threats.

Oliver listened to her, his face never showing doubts, only confusion. He was aware, in the distance, of his mother asking for everyone’s attention. He stood there, eyes locked with Felicity, never doubting, not even for a second, the words she was telling him.

He heard his mother making her speech in the distance. “Thank you so much for your presence tonight. In such dark times, it is good to know our family has your support. You are all our friends and I know Robert would be proud to see us all together in his memory.”

Oliver reassuringly pressed Felicity’s shoulders, forcing a small smile and mouthing a thank you as he made his way across the room, knowing he was supposed to be by his mother’s side in any minute.

“Our family has always been what Robert cherished the most. His priority. Now that he is gone, it became our son’s priority. As parents, we all want the best for our children. We want them to grow, to mature. We hope they will find someone who supports them along the way. A partner. Someone to share their life with. The good times and the bad ones. Someone who will always be there for them, who will encourage them, cheer for them. Someone who will help them become a better person”

He made his way through the crowd, his ears buzzing, his mind flashing pictures while he listened to his mother’s speech - pictures that he tried his best to ignore, to push back in a small corner of his brain. He saw Laurel, beaming, on his right and quickly walked up to her.

“I am so pleased to announce to you that Oliver and his girlfriend, Laurel, are engaged.”

He grabbed Laurel’s arm under the cheers and, as they walked up the small step to the stage where Moira was, he leaned and whispered in her ear, “I know everything.”

Chapter Text

"Freedom '90"

 

I won't let you down
I will not give you up
Gotta have some faith in the sound
It's the one good thing that i've got
I won't let you down
So please don't give me up
Because i would really, really love to stick around

Heaven knows i was just a young boy
Didn't know what i wanted to be
I was every little hungry schoolgirls pride and joy
And i guess it was enough for me
To win the race? A prettier face!
Brand new clothes and a big fat place
On your rock and roll tv
But today the way i play the game is not the same
No way
Think i'm gonna get me some happy
I think there's something you should know
I think it's time i told you so
There's something deep inside of me
There's someone else i've got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man

All we have to do now
Is take these ties and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that i don't belong to you
And you don't belong to me
Freedom
You've gotta give for what you rake
Freedom
You've gotta give for what you take
Heaven knows we sure had some fun boy

What a kick just a buddy and me
We had every big-shot goodtime band on the run boy
We were living in a fantasy
We won the race
Got out of the place
I went back home got a brand new face
For the boys on mtv
But today the way i play the game has got to change
Oh yeah
Now i'm gonna get myself happy



Oliver played his part for the next hour. Shaking hands, smiling, accepting words of congratulations. Laurel was beaming, proudly showing off the ring she had kept hidden for the last few days. 

The words he had whispered in her ear had caused some confusion to appear on her face but she had quickly gathered her bearings. She kept throwing him a few glances every now and then while they were standing side by side, being held back by a couple of Moira’s friends. 

“Oh what a beautiful ring! Is it from the Dearden’s vault?” 

“No, it’s not… We wanted something new. To mark a new beginning,” Laurel smiled, holding out her left hand. The ring was indeed beautiful. A huge sapphire, circled by small white diamonds on a yellow gold band. Oliver smiled briefly, remembering that he had been the one not willing to use the Dearden’s family jewels. If only he had paid more attention to what his guts were telling him, but he had been caught up in the whirlwind. His father’s death, the pressure at QC and at home… It had seemed like a good idea to fulfill Robert Queen’s wish. He and Laurel had talked about it and agreed that this was probably the best time to consider an engagement. It made sense. It was logical. It was the next step. How many times had he repeated those words in his head in the last few days? Hell, he hadn’t even chosen the ring with Laurel. He had stayed at the office to finish off some paperwork, pretending it couldn’t wait. Moira had been more than happy to share that moment with her future daughter-in-law, the three of them pretending it didn’t mean anything that the future groom couldn’t find one hour to pick his fiancée’s engagement ring. It meant everything but like always, they had chosen to ignore the meaning behind the action. 

During the next thirty minutes, Oliver kept the mask firmly on his face. His mind was buzzing with what Felicity had told him, the warning bells in his head screaming louder and louder with each passing minute. Laurel noticed his strange behavior and started to show worry and apprehension. At some point, their eyes briefly met and something must have clicked for her because her hand started shaking as she drank her champagne and she instinctively glanced at Felicity who was being held back by one of their potential investors. Oliver had seen how uncomfortable his assistant had been once she had heard Moira announcing the engagement. Her face had paled and even from the other side of the room he had been able to see her shaking her head, her hand covering her mouth in horror, probably blaming herself and her sucky timing. She had looked at him mouthing, “I’m sorry”, her eyes wide. 

Sighing, he finally put down his glass, not able to take any more of the fakeness. 

“Will you excuse us?” Not waiting for an answer from whoever Laurel was talking to, he grabbed her by the arm murmuring, “we need to talk.” 

“Ollie… surely, it can wait? We have guests!” she hissed, trying to resist. 

Oliver stopped and stared at her. “Laurel. I told you: I know. So either you come with me and we talk like adults, or I just leave you here and you’ll have to wait for your detective to tell you where I went.” 

Her face paled suddenly at his words before a blush started to creep on her cheeks. “Ollie, I don’t know what…”

“In private or I leave you here?” he repeated, his tone much colder. 

She pinched her lips, her head bowing a little as she too put her champagne down, following him. 

He stopped briefly by Dig’s side, letting him know he didn’t want to be disturbed for the rest of the night. Deciding the best place to make sure they wouldn’t be interrupted was probably the upstairs library, he led Laurel to the staircase, barely slowing down. 

As he let her inside the room, stepping behind her and closing the door, he took a deep breath, considering his options. Should he confront her right away or at least give her a chance to come clean? 

“Ollie. I don’t know what this is all about but…”

Confrontation it is, then.

“You hired someone to tail me. That’s what this is all about,” he curtly explained. 

“Well, I don’t know what she told you but she misunderstood me, obviously.” Laurel crossed her arms, leaning on one of the chairs as Oliver started pacing in front of the large sofa. 

Oliver stared at her. “When you say ‘she’… I’m curious… are you talking about Felicity or Mandy?” 

Laurel visibly gulped, then passed her fingers across her forehead. “Listen, it’s not what you think it is.” 

“Laurel. Let’s keep it simple, alright? Felicity told me everything. You’re spying on me, inside and outside of QC.” 

“That’s not true!” 

Oliver pinched his lips, looking at her, not even bothering to answer. 

She huffed out a dry laugh. “I can’t believe it. You would choose to believe her over me.” 

Oliver observed her for a few seconds. “Laurel. There is no choice to make. Felicity and I… we don’t lie to each other. We both know I can’t say the same about us.” 

“You’re not fair, Ollie! I’m the one who’s had to deal with all your lies for years!” she shouted, anger causing her to straighten her shoulders as she walked towards him. 

“Exactly, Laurel. I lied to you, you lied to me. You lied to yourself… I lied to myself. That’s the base of our relationship: lies,” he calmly explained, shoving his hands in his pockets.

“Ollie… I was scared. Worried about you… about us. I felt it, in my bones, that something was bothering you and you were so distant. We barely talk these days. With the whole Isabel drama, I panicked, thinking maybe you would make the same mistakes your father did,” Laurel explained, her eyes tearing up. 

“I can understand your lack of trust towards me. God knows I gave you plenty of reasons,” Oliver softened. “But that doesn’t mean I can forget about it. We can’t continue like this, Laurel. It’s not fair for you or for me.” 

“Ollie… we just got engaged. We can work around it,” Laurel all but pleaded, her hands twisting as she played with her engagement ring. 

Oliver sighed as he sat down on the couch. “And then, what’s next, Laurel?” 

“What do you mean? We just get past it, like mature couples do.” 

“I can’t… I can’t do that. You and me… it’s a mistake. It has been a mistake for a long time.” He threw his arms in the air as he finally realized how true his words were. “This whole thing, the engagement… it’s just a huge fucking mistake!” 

“Ollie, don’t talk like that. We can work it out. We will.” At that moment, she sounded so confident, so sure of herself that it reminded him of how she was when they met. It also reminded him of how much his parents were rooting for her, so pleasantly surprised he was dating a girl like her. 

“Laurel…” Oliver sighed as she kneeled in front of him, putting her arms on his thighs. She leaned in, softly kissing him. He let her, knowing deep down this would be the last time, then gently pushed her away. 

“I have cheated on you so many times I lost count,” he told her, his eyes never leaving hers. 

“Ollie, I know it didn’t mean… I know how you are and I know you didn’t do it to hurt me. You’ve always been a charmer, your father has always been one. I know you never loved them like you love me.” She sat down next to him on the couch, leaving a hand on his thigh. 

“So it’s OK? You’re fine with it?” Oliver raised an eyebrow. God, Laurel, how can you be OK with that? Can’t you see you deserve better? 

“No, I’m not. Of course it hurts to think of it, but I also can separate those meaningless affairs with what we have. What we’ve built together. It’s something I have accepted, Queen men…” she trailed off, her voice trembling. 

He cut her off. “Can’t you see, Laurel? A part of me needed you to confront me! Needed you to show me you cared enough to tell me to stop! Show me that you cared more about me than about my last name. You always acted as all that mattered was that you could publically date me, Oliver Queen. No matter the cost, no matter what I did on the side as long as you were ‘the official’.” 

He pushed her hand away, getting up from the couch as he resumed his pacing. 

“That’s not true. I love you, Ollie. I just accepted the dark part of you as well.” 

“You shouldn’t have!” he shouted, startling her. He knew she wasn't used to see him that way. Ollie never got mad, never screamed. He did sarcasm, not anger. But he was tired of being Ollie.

“God, Laurel. Don’t you think you deserve better than this?” 

“I love you, Ollie,” she repeated, her voice trembling. 

“No. You love the idea of me. The ideal person you wish I could be, and you just ignore the parts that don’t fit. I’m not blaming you. I did the same with you. But you and I… we will never be happy together.” 

“You can’t do this to me. We just got engaged, what will people say?” she cried, protectively holding her arms around her waist. 

“We don’t have to make a big deal out of it. Just… keep our distances from each other until people understand what happened,” he said, dismissively waving his hand. 

“I did this to help you and your family, I’ve always been there for you.” Her anger started to rise as she confronted him reproachfully. She angrily wiped her tears, balling her fists as her tone turned bitter. “And now I’m just going to be the poor girl who got abandoned at the altar. I suppose you’d rather we wait to announce the wedding is cancelled until QC is safe and sound?” 

“Don’t,” he warned her, holding out a finger. 

“It’s true!” she stood up, screaming, “don’t think I’m not aware of how important it is to present the face of a responsible family. I know Robert’s death is what pushed you to agree to it!” 

Oliver took a breath, ready to snap back at her when her words caught his attention. “Really? You knew that?” he asked, narrowing his eyes. 

She was about to answer when he cut her off, approaching her, forcing her to look in his eyes. “You were fully, 100% aware of that and yet you were still fine with us going on with it? My main motivation was appearances, QC, my family but never, not once did you ever stop and think that this wasn’t right, that this wasn’t the moment to take this kind of decision, that maybe my head wasn’t in the game?” 

He waited for an answer but she just lowered her head, playing with her engagement ring. 

Oliver snorted. “Laurel. You didn’t care how or why we were getting engaged. You wanted that ring on your finger and that’s all that mattered. You don’t get to lecture me about my motives when yours were just as poor.” 

He leaned on the wall near the small fireplace, feeling a pinching in his heart when he saw the tears streaming down her face. But he was determined to come clean with her, for him and for her. “I know most of this is my fault. I should have been honest with you as soon as I had doubts. We can cancel everything right now, if you want to. Tomorrow, next week… it doesn’t matter to me. I will deal with the consequences. I will make an announcement, or you will. We can end this any way you want to.” 

She looked at him, shaking her head as if to convince herself this whole conversation was just a very bad dream. “It can’t end like this. You and me… we’re meant to be together. We’ve been through too much for it to be any other way.” 

Oliver sighed, grabbing a box of tissues on the small coffee table and handing it to her.

“Maybe the reason we’ve been through that much was because we were never meant to be, in the first place. All those lies, the struggles,… maybe they were just trying to show us we were never the right person for each other?” 

Laurel sniffled, wiping the tears on her face. “Ollie… Let’s give us a couple of weeks to think things through. Maybe there’s still a chance for us?” 

“I can’t. I can’t get past this,” Oliver calmly said. 

“But… but you said yourself you didn’t blame me?” Her eyes were full of hope, as if she was still clinging on a dream that somehow she could fix everything. 

“I don’t blame you for what you did behind my back. It’s mostly my fault. What I can’t understand… Hell, what I can’t accept is that you would threaten Felicity”. His voice hardened as he approached her, his steps decided. “You threatened someone who was trying to do the decent thing. You made her believe she would lose her job, the new life she had just started to build just to cover up your lies. You emotionally blackmailed her. That… that I can’t forgive. You put her in a position where she thought she had to either betray me or risk losing everything she had been building.” 

He paused, shaking his head. “Laurel… this isn’t you. That’s not who you are. You’re not someone who would even consider doing that. At least you weren’t when we met.” He gently grabbed her arms, murmuring, “can you see it now? We just bring out the worst in each other. Not the best.” 

She stayed quiet for a long moment as if she was processing his words. “I’d like to be alone.” 

“Of course. I’ll be in my room. Do you want me to ask someone to drive you back?”

“No. I’ll call a cab,” she softly declined. 

Oliver was almost near the door when he heard her laugh softly. It was a sad, bitter laugh… the kind of laugh people get at funerals. 

“I can’t believe it. I’ve been wary of so many women in your life who could have taken my place. I never even saw her as a threat. Isn’t it ironic she would be the one causing us to break up?” 

Oliver pinched his lips, nodding, knowing it was futile to deny. “I’m sorry, Laurel. I never wanted to hurt you.” 

She shook her head. “No. I’m just as responsible, I guess… I let you hurt me for years, pretending it was fine… I only have myself to blame for that.”

A part of him agreed with that. At what point did the strong woman turn into someone who would willingly accept his attitude?

So, he stayed silent and walked out of the room. He quietly closed the door behind him, knowing that for once in his life, he had done the right thing. 

As he made his way to his own bedroom, untying his tie and rolling up his sleeves, he sighed with relief, feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He felt sorry for hurting Laurel but knew that, in the end, he had done it as much for her as for him. It was ironic, in a way, that this break up was probably the most respectful thing he had ever done concerning her. He still cared for her, probably always would. He wasn’t sure he had ever been in love with her but there had been feelings. Those feelings had just never been enough for him to put her front and center in his life. She deserved much better and probably needed time to figure it all by herself as well. All he could hope was that she would take the time for herself, learn what she wanted in life and what she deserved and not be willing to compromise on those things anymore. 

He was glad to find the hallways empty despite the fact that the reception was still going strong, judging by the muffled noise coming from downstairs. He pinched his lips as he reached his bedroom, locking the door behind him. He honestly had no idea how everything would turn out, how they would cancel the wedding, how it would impact QC and his own family. He carelessly threw his tie on the small sofa at the foot of his bed and went straight to the window facing the main entrance. He had left Laurel alone, respecting her wishes but that didn’t mean he didn’t want to check if she made it home safely with a cab. He lost track of time as he stood there, watching the dimly lit gardens as a few guests started to leave.

It was such a weird feeling, how the night was supposed to go and eventually turned out. Nothing had gone to plan, and he knew he would have to come face to face with his choices sooner rather than later. He wasn’t nervous in the slightest about it, knowing deep down he had made the right call. The road his father had traced for him, with Laurel by his side, hadn’t been a bad one. Now he understood that. He understood his father wanted him to be established, mature, settled. He finally understood that, in his own weird way, Robert Queen had always wanted to be a good father. By encouraging him to commit to Laurel, he had just wanted to show Oliver he believed he was ready for the next step in his life.

There had just been a miscast in the process. Oliver himself was to blame. He should have told his father much sooner about his own struggles, his own insecurities. He should have ended things with Laurel as soon as he started to cheat on her and stopped having remorse. A part of him had been so willing to cave in, to please his parents, that he had continued the relationship. Thinking that, at least in one part of his life, he was making them proud.

Now, with his father gone, Oliver was starting to understand that one cannot live a life just to get someone’s approval. Robert Queen wanted his son to become a man and a man needs to take a stand. He was 26, and it was time.

All of his life had been games, fun, girls, parties, nice clothes, nice cars, nice hotels. Things had always been handed to him on a silver platter and a longing inside of him had grown bigger and bigger through the years. It had finally reached the point where he couldn’t ignore it anymore. There was somebody else he wanted to be. He needed to be. He still didn’t know for sure who that new person was going to be – Hell he was just figuring it out. But there wasn’t a part of his body that didn’t scream he was, finally, on the right path.

Oliver didn’t want easy. He didn’t want simple. He wanted fights, passion, challenges. He wanted to earn his success, not be handed the keys to the kingdom by default. The last few days had taught him something valuable: life is short. It is precious. You don’t get a second chance.

It had taken his assistant bravely opening up to him, thinking she was about to lose the life she had just started to build, but still willing to do it because she’d rather lose it all than lose sight of who she is. That had been the real eye-opener for him. It was as if a thick curtain had separated him from the world all his life and someone had finally torn it down. Felicity was way ahead of him on… most things, that one included. She knew who she was, while it seemed to Oliver he was just starting to figure it out.  

The sight of a yellow cab driving the alley caught his attention. He saw Laurel discreetly walking down the main stairs and hopping in the back seat of the car, not looking back.

He stepped away from the window and fell onto his bed, not bothering with a shower. He just kicked off his shoes and laid an arm over his eyes. He was asleep within minutes.

 

***

Oliver was just finishing breakfast the next morning, getting ready for work, when his mother and sister joined him. Both women were wearing a huge, yet tired, smile on their faces.

“So, now that it’s official, have you and Laurel set the date? Please say it’s gonna be a June Wedding!” Thea all but squealed as she grabbed a cinnamon roll.

“Thea. Don’t annoy your brother. And please, sit up straight,” Moira lightly scolded her as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

Oliver briefly closed his eyes, taking a sip of orange juice.

“That being said, your sister is right. It’s time to start planning, one year is the strict minimum to plan a wedding like yours.”

Putting his glass down, Oliver looked at his mother. “There won’t be a wedding next year.”

Buttering a piece of toast, Moira barely glanced at him. “Oh… winter wedding is it then? Funny, I always assumed Laurel would want a summer wedding.”

“No. I mean there won’t be any wedding at all. Not in the winter, not in the summer,” Oliver explained, his voice firm and calm.

“Wha…” Thea looked at him, confused, holding her knife in mid-air. “Oh my God are you guys eloping?!”

“Thea, don’t be silly. Of course not,” Moira scolded her, her eyes frowning. She then turned her eyes to her son, obviously waiting for him to explain.

“Laurel and I broke off our engagement last night.”

Silence welcomed his words. Thea started mumbling things about dresses and bridesmaids while Moira carefully put her coffee down on the table.

“Thea, can you please go to your room? I need to talk with your brother.”

“But…”

“Now,” Moira curtly added.

Thea picked up her plate, grumbling. Moira waited until she was out of the room to turn to her son.

“Oliver, what are you talking about? You just got engaged. Whatever happened can be worked out.”

“No, mom. This was a huge mistake. I shouldn’t have agreed to it. I don’t want to marry Laurel. I don’t want to share my life with her.”

“And you only realized that last night?” Moira raised an eyebrow.

“No. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now. Then, dad died and everyone seemed to believe it was such a great idea…” Oliver trailed off.

“I didn’t see you contradicting anyone, Oliver,” Moira snapped.

“You didn’t see me happy about it either, did you?”

Moira gasped but Oliver wasn’t done.

“I understand you and dad loved Laurel. I loved her, too, I guess. Just not enough to commit to her for the rest of my life.”

“If this is about getting cold feet or…” Moira softened as she reached for Oliver’s hand.

“No. It’s not. Quite the opposite. I got cold feet so many times before, chickening out when I wanted to break up with her. I finally had the guts to do it last night. It’s not the best time, I’m aware of that…”

“Not the best time?” Moira interrupted him. “That must be the understatement of the year! Oliver you just got engaged! Oh my… is that why we didn’t see any of you after the announcement? Why would you do that? Poor Laurel, she must be devastated. How could you do that to her, Oliver?”

Oliver pinched his lips, willing himself to keep quiet on the whole private investigator drama. He felt like he at least owed her that.

“Laurel and I talked a lot last night and I think we both came to the same understanding. We want different things in life.”

“What exactly does she want that you can’t give her, Oliver? You’re a Queen, you could give her the world!” Moira threw her napkin on the table, standing up.

Oliver snorted. “Is that all you think of me? Any woman would be happy to be with me because I’m the definition of a good provider? I could give them anything they want because I’m part of a wealthy, respectable family?”

“That’s not what I meant.” Moira started pacing, clutching at her necklace.

“Yes, mom. That’s what you meant. Is it that wrong of me to want someone who would see past this?” he asked, encircling the room with his hand. “Is it that wrong to think there might be something else to love about me?”

“Oh, Oliver...” Moira softened her tone as she took a seat next to him. “There is so much more in you than all of this. What makes you think Laurel doesn’t see it?”

“Mom… I cheated on Laurel. All the time. I lied to her face and she knew it but she just pretended like it didn’t really matter.”

Moira pinched her lips, lowering her eyes.

“I acted with her exactly the way dad acted with you. I don’t… I don’t want to be that kind of husband,” Oliver whispered, distractedly playing with a piece of bacon on his plate. “I don’t want to be that kind of man.”

“You don’t have to, sweetheart. There are therapists who could help you and she would support you.”

Oliver snickered. “Mom, I’m not a sex-addict. And even if I was… OK, Laurel and I get married, I go to therapy, it works. What happens when it’s not working anymore, when I slip back into bad habits? How could I trust her to stand up to me when she has never done it?”

Moira stayed silent for a moment, pondering his words.

“I knew this whole thing between your father and Isabel was messing with you...”

“Yes. It took me a while to understand why, though. I was so angry with dad and even with you. I didn’t realize it was because I was mad at myself; disgusted with how I was acting in my personal life. I’m sorry, mom. You were right, what happened between Dad and you was none of my business. It was your marriage, your rules. I just don’t want my marriage to be like yours. Marrying Laurel would be repeating history. I don’t want that.” He lightly pressed her hand back, smiling reassuringly at her. There was no anger in his word, no judgement. Just acceptance. “Laurel and I… we don’t belong together. We don’t make each other stronger or better.”

“I loved your dad, and he loved me too, you know,” Moira murmured, her eyes shining with tears.

“I know. I just… I’d like to try and see if there’s another kind of love out there for me. Something maybe a little less proper and a little more messy?”

“What about QC?” Moira straightened up, blinking away the tears.

“I don’t know, mom. I know the smartest move for QC would be this marriage. I know that’s what dad would do because he always knew what was best for the company. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a business man as he was. But I’d really like to try to be a better man.”

Oliver stood up, lightly kissing his mother’s cheek. He was pushing back his chair when she stopped him, grabbing his arm.

“What… what happened to make you change your mind last night?”

He took a deep breath, his eyes travelling on the table and landing on a plate of green apples. It stood out weirdly with the rest, everything so white and creamy. He smiled peacefully as he remembered his mother’s words last night and the images they had unconsciously brought up in his mind: “…Someone to share their life with. The good times and the bad ones. Someone who will always be there for them, who will encourage them, cheer for them. Someone who will help them become a better person.”

“You did. Your speech… it was a lovely speech, mom. It’s just that… it’s not Laurel that I saw.”  

“Is there someone else in your life?” Moira asked, narrowing her eyes.

Oliver chuckled. “God. No. I swear to you, mom, no. I don’t plan on having anyone in my life anytime soon. I think I need to focus on other things first.”

“Then I hope you’ll find her, whoever she is,” Moira smiled softly at him.

He smiled back at her, relieved to see the understanding in her eyes. “I just hope I’ll be worthy of her.”

 



***

Felicity was pacing. There were no other words. She was pacing, biting her nails or whatever was left of them. The night had been short, she had laid on her bed staring at the ceiling most of it.

Oliver was engaged. He was engaged. He was going to get married. Start a new life. Commit.

With Laurel.

The girl who had threatened to ruin her life.

The girl she had warned Oliver about, 2 and a half minutes before their engagement was announced.

I really have the suckiest sense of timing in the entire universe.

“I always thought punctuality was one of your main qualities, on the contrary.”

She violently jumped, her hand already covering her chest as she turned around, facing her boss. “Oliver, you scared the hell out of me!”

“My bad. Consider yourself lucky, I’m not threatening you with a stapler,” he snickered as he put down his jacket on her desk.

She bit her lips, trying to read his body language. He was relaxed, even slightly cheerful and definitely not looking as if he was about to fire her. Which really didn’t make much sense. If he’s happy, then he must have sorted everything out with Laurel, so that should mean I’m fired…

“You’re not fired, Felicity.”

“Ugh!” she groaned, pinching her nose. “I’m sorry I didn’t sleep last night and it just makes it so much harder to filter my thoughts."

He smiled tenderly at her. “We both know I probably couldn’t function without you.”

“I know I probably should deny that but… that would be lying,” she smiled sweetly at him.

“Although my coffee maker would probably function better.”

She shrugged a shoulder, rolling her eyes as she mumbled under her breath, “that’s a matter of perspective.”

“Felicity, I… I wanted to thank you,” he said in a much more serious tone as he sat on her desk.

“Hum… are you sure?” she asked, disbelief making her voice higher.

He huffed out a laugh. “Yes. Thank you for coming to me, despite… everything that could have happened to you. Thank you for trusting me and being my friend.”

“I didn’t know you were going to…”

“No one knew. It was more like a secret agreement. But it’s cancelled now, anyway.”

“Oh,” she murmured, her eyes slightly confused.

“OH!” she repeated as she understood the implications. “Oh my… I’m so sorry!”

“Don’t be. It was a mistake. Laurel and I broke things off for good, this time. We’re just keeping it quiet for now, though. I don’t know when we are going to let people know there will be no wedding so I’d appreciate it if…”

“Of course! I’ll keep your secret!” she pretended to zip her mouth and throw the key. “But before I never ever mention it again… can I ask you something?” she grimaced, twisting her hands.

“Sure."

“Is it… it’s not because of me, is it?” she asked quietly, staring into his eyes as if she wanted to make sure he wouldn’t lie to her.

“No. It’s not. I promise you. There were many things that weren’t working between Laurel and me, as you’re aware of. I don’t even blame her for spying on me, to be honest. God knows I never gave her any reason to trust me. You shouldn’t commit yourself to someone you don’t trust… or don’t respect, in my case. You just gave me the opportunity to realize that.”

“So… are you saying I helped you make the right decision? Again?” she asked cheekily, proudly holding her head high.

“Yup. You should have put that in your resume, you know. MIT, class of 09 and ‘very good at inspiring wise life decisions’,” he joked, doing the little air quote gesture.

“Does that mean I can expect a raise?”

“Don’t push your luck,” he winked at her, laughing slightly at the fake pout she gave him.

He coughed lightly, his tone growing more serious. “But really. Thank you. My head hasn’t been in the game ever since last week… I thought that honoring one of my father’s wish would make me feel better. I was completely wrong.”

“You shouldn’t blame yourself, Oliver. You standing up to your father probably made him proud. Of course, the conversation could have been better but at least he saw his son becoming a man; a strong, confident man. I’m sure fulfilling that wish is much more important than anything else.”

He gazed at her in wonder, as if he was suddenly realizing something. What, she didn't know, but his eyes shone up at once.

“Well. I don’t know about you but all those emotions wrecked me. I think that calls for Big Belly Burger for lunch?” she eventually rubbed her hands, trying to lighten up the mood.

“Who are you trying to cheer up exactly?” Oliver grinned, picking up a pen from her desk and playing with it.

“Well. I did tell you I didn’t sleep last night.”

“Fine. Let Dig know.” He shook his head as he stood up, adding, “any messages?”

“Not really. I added an appointment for you tomorrow afternoon, if that’s alright with you?”

“Sure. With who?”

“Mister Palmer. Of Palmer Tech. He was there yesterday and we talked a lot about the new wind turbines. Turns out his company has been working on a similar project and maybe a cooperation could be a good idea?”

Oliver frowned as he remembered having seen Felicity talking with someone vaguely familiar. “Palmer, Palmer,… tall guy, dark hair?”

“Yup. That’s the one!” she beamed. “So since your schedule was clear and he’s not in Starling City for more than a few days, I thought…”

He cut her off. “No, you’re right. That’s fine. It could be interesting.”

 



***


“So… you just broke the record of shortest engagement ever?” Dig snorted, biting into his burger. They had, for once, decided to go to Big Belly Burger instead of having take-out.

“Yep,” Oliver nodded, chewing on a fry. “You don’t seem so surprised?”

“No, I’m not. I was more surprised by the engagement announcement, to be honest.”

Oliver opened his burger, taking out the pickles and putting them on Felicity’s plate. She grinned broadly at him, while stealing a handful of his fries. He rolled his eyes, knowing there was no point in telling her she should order her own.

“I just wish I had stopped things before. I got caught up.”

Dig put his burger down, wiping his mouth with a napkin. “Man… I’m not blaming you. You shouldn’t be expected to make rational decisions about your private life right now. You’re dealing with too much stuff as it is.”

“Speaking of which…” Felicity chimed in, chewing on the straw of her milkshake. “I’ve been thinking a lot. Like a lot. I didn’t sleep last night so my brain went all cray cray.”

“To the point, Felicity,” Oliver smiled as he took a sip of his drink.

“Yes. Right. Sorry. So I was thinking… if Isabel wanted to be CEO, why would she plan a hostile takeover? It doesn’t make sense. At all.”

Oliver frowned. “You’re right… it doesn’t.”

“Do you think we might have looked at it the wrong way?” Dig asked.

“Maybe? What if she just wanted some leverage to force your dad to name her VP? Having a lot of backers on your side can be pretty convincing?”

“And when it didn’t work, she tried to get knocked up?” Oliver asked, playing with a fry.

“Who knows? I’ve seen people do crazier things.”

“But if her main goal was to be CEO…” Dig trailed off, glancing at Oliver.

“You don’t think… ?” Oliver threw his fry back in the basket as Felicity gasped, her hand covering her mouth.

Dig held out his hands. “No idea, man. Just trying to see things from another perspective. Things have been weird since this whole trip to Russia. The gas explosion, her being named VP, the whole business trip and then the helicopter accident. It’s just a lot of things in a very short period of time and she is linked to all of them somehow.”

“I can’t see her do that…” Oliver murmured. “I mean, I don’t trust her at all but I can’t see her as psychopath.”

“We still don’t know what caused the helicopter to crash, anyway. So let’s not get ahead of ourselves until we do, alright?” Dig placated him. “As for the gas explosion, you know the investigation has only been able to prove that it’s arson so far. No evidence pointing to the culprit yet. Not sure we’ll ever find out.” 

Oliver turned to Felicity. “You’re awfully quiet.”

She bit her lips, glancing at him. “I’m just very confused about everything. I have all this info and my brain just can’t make sense of it” she groaned “it’s so frustrating.”

Dig smiled fondly at her then turned his attention back to Oliver. “Do you know when the meeting to appoint the next CEO will take place?”

“Yep. There is a meeting in a couple of weeks, they should make their decision around that time. I’m supposed to meet Walter in a few days, as well as some of our trusted board members.”

 



***



“Wow. Just wow.” Tommy Merlyn sat back on his chair, looking at his best friend with big, rounded eyes.

“I know,” Oliver winced, loosening his tie.

“I can’t believe I missed all this. When I saw you and Laurel sneaking upstairs, I just assumed you guys were going to celebrate, not…” He waved off his hand. “That almost makes me feel bad about my own night.”

Oliver smirked. “Judging by the hickey on your neck, you probably were pretty busy yourself. I take it the lady of the night wanted to mark her territory?”

Tommy snorted. “Please. Lady? Surely, you mean… ladies?”

“Oh, wow. Really?”

“What can I say… you getting engaged really broke a lot of hearts. I had a very busy night trying to mend some of them.”

Oliver laughed. “I knew I could count on you!”

“You know what is the best thing in all of this?”

“Hum. No?”

“There will probably be another engagement at some point. More ladies to comfort.” Tommy raised his glass. “Thank you.”

“Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Not planning on getting back in the whole dating thing anytime soon.”

Tommy observed him quietly for a while then got up, walking to the small bar area. Oliver had stopped by this best friend’s place after work, intending on at least breaking the news himself.

Tommy hadn’t been really surprised by the news, judging from his nonplussed face and the fact he had been more shocked by the fact Oliver had stood up to his mother. For some reason that he would never admit out loud, Tommy had always been a bit scared of Moira Queen, saying there was fire beneath the ice and that one stare from her was enough to make him feel like he was eight years-old again.

“You sure you don’t want something to drink?” Tommy asked as he poured himself another martini.

“I guess one drink won’t hurt, right?”

“That’s my boy!” Tommy tilted his head at him, smiling proudly. “The usual?”

“Yep!” Oliver nodded, then caught himself as he saw his friend grabbing the bottle of scotch. “You know what… No. I think I’d rather a martini.”

Tommy’s hand lingered above the bottle of scotch, pausing. He caught himself and, as he poured martini in a glass, asked, “Let’s talk about important things, now.”

“Like?” Oliver took the hand Tommy handed him.

“I don’t know… like who’s the guy your assistant brought as her plus one, maybe?”

Chapter Text

"Mr. Brightside"

 

I'm coming out of my cage
And I’ve been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all

It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss
It was only a kiss

Now I’m falling asleep
And she’s calling a cab
While he’s having a smoke
And she’s taking a drag

Now they’re going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it’s all in my head

But she’s touching his chest now
He takes off her dress now
Let me go

And I just can’t look its killing me
And taking control

Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis

But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr Brightside

I’m coming out of my cage
And I’ve been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down
Because I want it all

It started out with a kiss
How did it end up like this?
It was only a kiss
It was only a kiss

Now I’m falling asleep
And she’s calling a cab
While he’s having a smoke
And she’s taking a drag

Now they’re going to bed
And my stomach is sick
And it’s all in my head

But she’s touching his chest now
He takes off her dress now
Let me go

Cause I just can’t look its killing me
And taking control

Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis

But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr Brightside

I never
I never
I never
I never

 

 

“So… what were you saying about Miss Felicity’s plus one, again?” Tommy asked with a smirk. “That he was just one of your consultants who wasn’t going to stay very long anyway?”

Oliver frowned, not bothering to answer. They had decided to grab a drink together in a nice wine club. The place was comfy, the music giving it a nice jazzy vibe. It wasn’t a top-fashioned bar, but perfect to have a good, lazy time.

Which was obviously what Felicity had had in mind as well. They were enjoying their drinks when Tommy had nudged him, pointing his chin towards the bar area.

Felicity was sitting there, enjoying a glass of red wine. She was wearing a black dress and her hair was hanging freely around her face, her glasses gone. Oliver was just about to stand up and invite her when she was joined by her date. That damn kid.

Oliver had tried to focus on Tommy and his complete – and very detailed- tale of last night, not fully able to ignore what he could see from the corner of his eyes. Felicity and Barry had left after a single drink and if seeing the young man putting his hand on the small of her back – naked back as her dress had a nice little cut – had been uncomfortable, he had done his best to blame it on the friendship he had with his assistant. The urge of protectiveness was the only reason why he had wanted to grab Barry’s hand and possibly break it. And his stomach churning was probably because the wine was corked… right?

“And then she told me her mother was there so of course, I invited her in. Thank God the bed was big enough for three. But then her grandma got jealous and who am I to deny a lady? So we made a bit of room for her as well. I just had to veto the dog, though, cause that’s pushing my limits,” Tommy rambled.

“… limits… yeah,” Oliver nodded absent-mindedly, his eyes now staring through the window as the young couple waited for a cab.

“But I was OK with the cat. You know me, I’ve always been a cat person. And you have to admit, cats are much cleaner than dogs. Great lickers, those little ones… right? Ollie?” Tommy nudged him as he took a look at Felicity and Barry as well. He winced as he saw them sharing a small kiss, Felicity having to reach on her tiptoes. He quickly glanced at his friend who looked like he was about to gouge his own eyes out.

Oliver grabbed his glass, finished his drink and put it back on the table with perhaps a little more force than necessary under Tommy’s understanding look.

“I guess we’re getting hammered?”

“Yep.”


 

Two hours, one bottle of tequila and one club later



“The thing is… I’m sure Gary… Larry… Andy…”

“Barry”

“Yeah Berry! He’s probably a good kid!” Oliver slurred as he licked the last drop of his tequila shot. “I mean he’s awkward and I feel like he’s hiding something. But I don’t know what, Tommy,” he sighed deeply, putting his glass down. “I don’t know what.”

Tommy patiently nodded, notably more sober than his friend. He only had taken a couple of shots, mostly keeping Oliver company who was dealing with the last tough days in the most common way: alcohol. They even had invited a couple of girls with them, one being currently on Oliver’s lap who was mostly ignoring her, too busy rambling about his assistant and her date.

“She deserves so much more. She deserves…. The best. Tommy. She deserves the best!” Oliver stared at his best friend, his eyes wide and slightly insane. “She deserves to be woo… wooooped? Woooo…”

“She deserves to be wooed,” Tommy finished for him. ”I know.”

Oliver looked at him suspiciously. “You want to woo her?”

“No… But that’s what you’ve been repeating for the last hour.”

“Ollie… are we going home?” the pretty girl on his lap whined, her patience growing obviously thin.

“I can’t. I have work tomorrow,” Oliver answered, waving his hand and almost slapping the girl in the process. “And my assistant will be pissed if I’m late.”
Oliver leaned towards Tommy, whispering, “she uses her loud voice when she’s pissed at me. She’s scary. Tiny. Buuuut scary.”

“I remember. She can be violent, our little Felicity,” Tommy smiled fondly.

“No. No no no no. She’s not violent. She’s so kind. And funny. And smart.” Oliver held out his index finger, waving it in front of Tommy’s face. “So smart… soooo smart, Tommy.”

Tommy was about to reply when their companions stood up, having understood their night was not going to end the way they hoped for. “Ladies, no, where are you going? I can take care of both of you!”

One of them smiled and handed him a small business card with her name and phone number. “Call me another time?”

“Thanks, dude. I get that you’re not in the mood, but did you really have to…” Tommy trailed off as he saw Oliver tearing off a poster on the wall, carefully placing it on the table.

“What are you doing?!”

“I want to thank her. She’s been… Tommy she’s been awesome. I was an ass with her in the beginning and she stayed with me. She stayed with me the whole time.”

“What the fuck do you want her to do with a poster of…” Tommy tilted his head, trying to get a better view on the poster. “Some random chicks in thongs?!”

“I’m not going to give her that! I’m gonna write her a poem!” Oliver explained slowly as tried to fish for a pen in his shirt, not realizing it didn’t have any pockets.

Tommy paused. “A poem?” 

“Yes, a poem. Damn it, where is my pen?”

Tommy rolled his eyes, picked up his jacket and handed him one. “There you go. Why don’t you just send her flowers?”

“Flowers are so easy; No. I want her to know I took the time,” Oliver hummed as he started to scribble down on the piece of paper. “She deserves to be wooed, you know.”

Tommy sighed deeply, pinching his nose. “I know… I know.”

Oliver raised his head, narrowing his eyes. “You want to woo her?”

“No, dude,… I… Oh, fuck this. Give me the tequila,” Tommy answered as he grabbed the bottle. "The things I do for you…”

 

*** 

 

Felicity,
Your name is so pretty
It rhymes with spaghetti.
You’re so sweet and nice
Like chicken fried rice.

 

“All that food… it sounds like you wanna eat her,” Tommy slurred, nursing what was left of their second bottle of tequila.

Oliver stopped in his writing, a goofy grin appearing on his face while he gazed dreamily into emptiness. He then shook his head, trying to focus on his poem. “No. She’s my assistant. You can’t eat your assistant. And lemme finish!” He vaguely tried to push Tommy away, only managing to slap him in the face.

You smell like green apples
I want to be your saddle.

Tommy snorted as he cuddled his bottle. “Dude, pretty sure apples does not rhyme with saddle.”

“Yeah, it does!” Oliver answered, unscrewing their third bottle and taking a long sip of it. They had long forgone the shot glasses.

“No! look! Apples has ‘p’ in it and saddle had ‘d’; not to mention you say apples, not apple,” Tommy explained, pointing at the words.

Oliver stared blankly for a few seconds. “Damn.”

He suddenly gasped. “But look, if I turn the paper around, the ‘d’ becomes a p’!”

“You genius,” Tommy looked at him in awe, his mouth hanging open.

Oliver started biting his pen again, already focusing on the next verse. “You’re as graceful as… as something… in a field of clovers.”

“Why clovers?”

“Because it’s green. Heifer! You’re as graceful as a heifer in a field of clovers!”

“Oh, good one! She likes animals!” Tommy approved enthusiastically. “Say something about how intelligent she is!”

“You brains are like… grains. You make… good bread… with your head!” Oliver scribbled down, his tongue pointing out. “We’re pretty good. We need to finish strong, though.”

“We need to talk about her hair. Poems always talk about girl’s hair.”

“Yeah… her hair is so blond… so blond… like,” Oliver mumbled, “like... like very blond. You think she’ll like it?”

“Yeah… girls love poetry!” Tommy raised his bottle, taking a long sip. Seeing one of the waitresses walking by, he called her. “Miss… oh lovely miss with the brown hair!”

She smiled at the pair, having noticed their antics. They gave great tips and were funny, slightly flirty but not pushy.

“Gentlemen. What can I do for you?”

“It’s for my buddy, here.” Tommy put his arm around Oliver’s shoulders. “See, he’s in love with that girl…”

“I… I’m not in love with Felicity,” Oliver snorted, spitting a bit of tequila in the process. He used his sleeve to wipe his mouth, rolling his eyes. “She’s my assistant. I respect her.”

“You can be in love with someone and respect them as well. It’s usually even better”, the young woman laughed.

“But I’m not in love with her. I know a lot about love and it’s not like that between us. She’s… she’s a friend and I really like her and she smells really, really good but she’s my assistant,” Oliver rambled. “I wrote her a poem because… why did I write her a poem, again?”

Tommy looked at him, confused. “I… I don’t know. You wanted to woo her?”

“Yes! I wanted to woo her because I’m not in love with her and I’m not jealous she is dating Bernie,” Oliver grinned triumphantly.

“Barry.”

“Whatever.” 




***

 
“Aaargh…” Felicity blindly reached for her alarm clock, knocking a few books in the process. She tapped on the on/off button but the annoying sound didn’t stop. Cursing in her pillow, she pushed her messy hair out of her face, trying to open her eyes. Sitting grumpily on her bed, she turned on the lamp on her night stand, groaning at the burst of light. It took her a few seconds to realize the sound wasn’t coming from her alarm clock but from her cellphone. She picked it up, along with her glasses and her heart started beating faster when she saw who was calling her.

“Oliver? Is everything alright?” she asked with a throaty voice as soon as she accepted the call.

“Feli… Felili… Feci… Felicily!” Her boss’s voice reached her foggy brain. There was something weird about it, other than the fact that he never had a problem pronouncing her name.

“… Oliver?” she repeated once more, frowning. “Are you OK?”

She was already getting up, heading to her wardrobe when she heard Tommy’s voice in the background. “It’s Miss Felicity, you dumbass.”

She dropped the pair of jeans she was just about to put on and went back to bed. Whatever the reason Oliver was calling her, she had a strong suspicion it wasn’t life threatening.

Taking a deep calming breath, she listened to the two men bickering on the phone. She could barely understand them, and had a fairly good idea of the reason behind their slurry voice.

I swear to God if you just drunk dialed me…


“Come on, tell her!” she heard Tommy say, followed by the sound of papers being ruffled.

“Oliver…” she tried to get his attention.

“I’m gonna tell her but gimme a minute!”

“Oliver!” she barked, efficiently gaining his attention.

“Oh, no, not the loud voice. See, Tommy. It’s scary. She’s a tiny little thing but she…”

“But she would really like to know why the hell you’re calling her at,” she checked her alarm clock, groaning, “3 in the morning!”

“You’re my assistant! I can call you! It’s in that thing we signed on your first day!”

“Contract. It’s called a contract,” Tommy chirped.

“Not in the middle of the night without good reason!” she snapped back, considering hanging up on him when a sudden thought filled her with dread. “Oh my God, did you guys have an accident or something?”

“Noooo. Well. I did spill a bit of tequila on my pants,” Oliver giggled – Oliver Queen is downright giggling. Like a freaking school girl.

“Do you remember when we drank tequila? In Ivy Town?” Oliver continued, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yes but… what does it have to do with anything?”

Oliver sighed deeply. “You were so pretty with your hair down.”

Felicity stayed silent, taken aback by the unexpected compliment.

“And so nice. You’re always so nice. I don’t deserve you,” Oliver rambled on. “You don’t make coffee but you’re such a good friend, Feli… Fel… Fe… You’re such a good friend, Smoak.”

“O… Kay… Oliver, can you tell me where you are? Do you need me to pick you up?”

“Nah, we’re at Tommy's.”

"Then what can I do for you?” she forced herself to keep her cool, mentally picturing all the ways she could get revenge on the both of them for waking her up in the middle of the night for no fucking reason.

“Marry him and have his babies!” Tommy screamed in the background then fell into what was probably hysterical drunken laugh but sounded more like a hyena dealing with an asthma attack.

Felicity felt herself blush, secretly hoping that they both would be too drunk to remember anything in the morning.

The sound of a fight could be heard as they both seemed to battle for the phone. Finally Oliver yelled triumphantly, “I wrote a poem for you!”

“… what?” she asked, seriously doubting her hearing.

“He said he wrote a poem for you!” Tommy yelled in the phone, causing her to wince and move her own cellphone as far away from her ear as possible.

“It says Feli… Feli… why is your name so difficult?” Oliver whined.

“Felicity, your name is so pretty… it rhymes with spaghetti” Tommy recited theatrically while she covered her eyes with her hand. Fortunately for her, he seemed to drop the phone to focus on what he was reading and she could barely make out the rest.

“Oliver, I’m gonna hang up, now. You drink a big glass of water and go to bed, now,” she said as calmly as she could.

“But my poem?” he whined, sounding like a scolded little boy. She couldn’t help but smile at the idea of a pouting Oliver Queen.

Forcing herself to keep a stern voice, she cleared her throat. “Believe me, you’ll thank me later.”

“… Your hair is so blond, like a good Belgian beer. I feel like James Bond when you’re shaking your rear!” Tommy finished proudly in the background. “I wrote that line myself, Miss Felicity!”

She honestly didn’t know at that moment whether to feel offended or let the laugh take over.
Fighting off the smile, she told Oliver, “I’m hanging up. Do not call me again, OK? I will see you at the office.”

“You promise?” Oliver asked hopefully. “I need you. I really need you. Like the desert needs the rain. Or the cow needs the cowboy. Not that you’re a cow. You’re not. If you were, you’d be the prettiest of all, though. Like a heifer in a field of…”

“Clovers, yeah… I heard that part,” she grinned. “I promise. Good night, Oliver.”

“’Night.”

The last thing she heard as she hung up was Tommy’s slurring voice, “so… di’ she like it?”

Shaking her head, she let out a small giggle as she climbed back into bed. Those idiots… Still getting back at them, though. 



As she was getting ready for work, several hours later, she carefully picked her shoes, making sure their heels were the loudest she had. Smirking, she also added a couple of clinking bracelets to her outfit.

Unsurprisingly, Oliver didn’t show up until 9:30, wearing a simple shirt, his hair ruffled and his face as white as a sheet. She hid her smile as she saw him walking to her desk more slowly than usual.

“Oliver! Good morning!” she greeted him in a high, cheerful voice.

He winced right away, his eyes shutting. “Morning, Felicity," he groaned as he went straight to his office and fell on his chair, holding his head between his hands.

His voice was throaty, even deeper than usual. It caused a few butterflies in her stomach, which she quickly tried to ignore. So I might have a thing for grumpy guys in a suit. Big deal.

Placing a big smile on her face, she quickly grabbed a few files, following him. “I have those files that you need to sign ASAP.”

She dropped the files on his desk, smirking at the loud bang they made in the empty office.

Groaning, Oliver lowered his head and looked at her. “Could you please step away from the window? I have a little bit of…”

“A hangover?” she chirped as she leant on his desk, her bracelets clinking loudly on the glass surface. “tell me about it…”

“You don’t have an aspirin, by any chance?” he murmured, closing his eyes.

“Nope. I can get you a glass of water though?”

“That would be nice, thank you.”

She went to the small kitchenette, humming as she filled a glass of water. She had to pinch her lips when she saw him still in the same position, moaning about his dying day.

She loudly put the glass on his desk, smiling innocently when he glared at her for the unwelcome noise.

“Don’t forget, you have an appointment with Mister Palmer at 11:30,” she reminded him as she closed the door to his office, deciding she had teased him enough for now.

Luckily for him, Oliver had a long experience with hangovers. After a small nap on his sofa and more water, he was somehow back to himself. At least from what she could see through the glass wall. He signed the papers she had left for him and brought them back to her office. By the time she had taken them to the appropriate services, he was already on the phone and Ray Palmer was waiting by the elevator.

“Mister Palmer!” she greeted him, shaking his hand.

“Miss Smoak. What a pleasure to meet you again. I am a few minutes early, I hope you don’t mind? I thought we could continue our interesting conversation,” he smiled warmly at her. “That is while Mr Queen is busy, I mean.”

She laughed lightly. “To be fair you are early, indeed. Have you thought about my suggestion for the wind turbine? That would really cut the costs. And please, call me Felicity.”

“I have actually! It’s a brilliant idea, I have to say. Mister Queen is very lucky to have you, that’s for sure. He won’t object you suggesting ideas to me, I hope?”

She shook her head, patting his arm reassuringly. “It has nothing to do with our own project, don’t worry. I’d never do that. Mr Queen will probably tell you that our approach is very different. We won’t even be using the same techniques.”

Oliver cleared his throat interrupting them. “Felicity?”

“Oliver! Your 11:30 appointment is here,” she smiled widely at him, not noticing how his eyes travelled down to her hand that was still on Ray’s arm. “Mr Palmer, Mr Queen.”

Oliver nodded, locking his jaw as he shook Ray’s hand. “Mr Palmer.”

“Mr Queen, such a pleasure to meet you! Your assistant and I have had the time to get to know each other at your reception… congratulations, by the way.”

“Congra…?” Oliver asked, confused, as Felicity winced behind Palmer’s back showing her left hand frantically.

“Oh. Right. Thank you, I guess?” he smiled stiffly while the other man looked at him, confused by his lack of enthusiasm.

“But you’re not here to talk about engagement and white dresses, right?” Felicity chimed in, distracting them while she shuffled them to Oliver’s office. “In you go. Would you like some coffee, Mister Palmer?”

Oliver frowned glancing between the two of them. “The coffee maker is broken, Felicity.”

“I thought you said we got a new one?”

“It broke down as well,” Oliver glared at her as she eyed him suspiciously.

“You really don’t have much luck with your coffee makers,” Ray laughed. “Nevermind, Felicity. I’ve had enough coffee this morning.”

“Alright, then. I’ll leave you two to it.” She quickly closed the door behind her, mumbling to herself about grumpy hungover bosses.

She felt like it had only been a couple of minutes when Ray opened the door again. Quickly hiding her surprise, she smiled at him. “So? How did it go?”

“Well… you were right, we are going to use different techniques. Your boss didn’t seem very enthusiastic about a partnership,” Ray chuckled. “Although I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t believe in the project or if it’s because I asked if your contract was long-term.”

Felicity shifted her eyes, quickly glancing at Oliver who was still sitting on his chair, a sore expression on his face. “Hum… excuse me?”

“My company is always on the look-out for bright people. Like you. I’d like to offer you a job as technical advisor.”

Her jaw dropped. “What? But… I’m an IT girl, not a technical advisor.”

Ray raised an eyebrow. “Yet, you’re working as an executive assistant right now.”

“Yes, I know. But it’s… temporary.”

“Hence why I’m proposing you another job.” He grinned as he fished a business card from his pocket. “Take a few days to think about it.”

“Well. Isn’t your company based in New York?”

“For now, yes. We are looking to open a new branch in California, though. We are always on the lookout for promising talents, and I’d be a fool not to offer you a position.”

Felicity frowned, looking at the small card between her fingers. “I can’t… it’s not the right time. With everything that’s happening at QC… I can’t leave the ship now.”

Ray smiled softly. “Loyalty is an admirable quality. But don’t let it dull your abilities, Felicity. Call me if you ever change your mind. You would be working in the Sciences Department, developing some of our advanced technology projects.”

She watched him as he made his way to the elevator in a few quick steps, her mouth still slightly agape. What the hell just happened?
 

 

 “And so, he offered you a job? Just like that?” Barry snapped his fingers.

“Yeah… I know we talked a lot during the reception at the Queen Mansion but it still seems crazy,” Felicity answered, playing with her fork.

“He probably made some searches. Looked through your records at MIT, stuff like that,” Sara explained, biting in her sandwich.

The three of them were having lunch together and Felicity had told them about Ray Palmer’s unexpected proposal. She was still slightly in shock and had barely touched her food.

“So what are you going to do?” Barry asked, munching on his ciabatta.

“I can’t. I mean, I can’t leave Oliver right now. Not to mention the job is in New York. I don’t want to move again,” she explained, biting her lips. “You think I should say yes?”

“I don’t know. It’s clearly a job that fits you more,” Barry shrugged. “But is it worth moving across the country?”

“I just got here. I love my apartment, I… I don’t want to start over again.”

“Then you got your answer,” Sara winked at her. “Although I admire you for your loyalty to QC. That’s taking it a step too far for me.”

Felicity frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I have just been told my usual schedule has to be rearranged. I had an arrangement where I could work four days instead of five, as long as I did all the hours required in my contract. That way I was able to take long weekends and…” she trailed off as she crossed her arms, suddenly lost in thought.

“And? Why is it so important for you to have long weekends?” Felicity asked. She had been wondering several times where Sara was going, and why she was travelling that much but didn’t want to be intrusive.

“I might have… met someone. Problem is she doesn’t live here, so I visit her a lot.”

“Oh,” Felicity said, surprised, sharing a look with Barry. “I’m sorry, I had no idea.”

Sara waved dismissively. “I don’t really talk about it. It’s a long distance relationship and I wasn’t sure it was going to work out… but it is. Things have been great, actually.”

“Where does she…” Felicity started to ask but was interrupted by her phone ringing. “Argh, sorry. It’s Oliver… Hello?”

“Felicity? There is a package for you here.”

“… what? What kind of package?”

“I think it’s from your mom. Donna Smoak?”

Felicity groaned. “Of course… I didn’t give her my address so she wouldn’t send me anything but she knows I’m your assistant.”

Oliver chuckled. “Looks like I found out where you get your stubbornness from. Anyway, are you stopping by your office or heading to Walter’s right away?”

“I was planning on heading there right away,” Felicity bit her lips.

“No problem. I’ll take it with me, then.”

“Thank you. It’s not too big, is it?”

“No, no. Like a shoebox.”

“Oh… bath stuff,” Felicity smiled.

“Bath stuff?”

“Yeah. She used to send me parcels with tons of things ‘for a relaxing bath’. For a minute I was afraid she had sent me another of her slutty dresses,” she laughed out loud. “Thank you. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

She quickly hung up, turning to Sara again. “So… who is she, where does she live, what does she do?”

Sara grinned, blushing slightly. “Well. Her name is Nyssa, she is a consultant in armory. She is specialized in historical weapons and apparently works for different museums. Hence the travel a lot part.”

“Nyssa. What a pretty name,” Barry chimed in. “Where is she from?”

“Originally from the Middle East.”

 

 

Caught up in her conversation with Sara, Felicity didn’t realize it was almost time for the meeting with Walter and Moira Queen. She hurriedly left her companions, running to catch an elevator. She was slightly out of breath when she walked into the conference, noticing that at least Mrs Queen had not arrived yet. Oliver was already sitting, and sure enough a small box was on the table in front of him.

Raising his head, he smiled as he saw her walking to him. “Almost late, Miss Smoak.”

“Key word being almost, Mister Queen.” She looked around her, making sure no one was observing them, then quickly stuck her tongue at him.

He chuckled, shaking his head then tapped the little box. “There you go. I’ve been really careful with it. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on relaxing baths.”

She smiled at him. “Why, thank you. God knows I need them. Being your assistant can really wear me out.”

He was just about to reply when Walter and Moira walked into the room, along with two board members: Alfred, the head of the board and a woman who was about the same age as Moira.

“So. I have made sure everyone knows about what you have found out, Oliver,” Moira explained as she took a seat.

“Yes. I have to say it didn’t surprise us as much as it should have,” Walter nodded. “So far we are sure that we have about 45% of the voices on our side. As you know, your family has the biggest part of the shares, so that makes you the main shareholders. That has a lot of weight when it comes to making a decision like this. But we shouldn’t underestimate Isabel’s influence.”

“That’s why we’ve decided to play the card of the one who knows the company the best. Walter knows it like the back of his hand. We are also going to prove that his decisions as VP were more than healthy for the company – financially speaking.” Alfred stood up, adding, “we prepared a small presentation, going back five years ago.”

He took the small remote used to lower the white screen, pressing the button. The white screen lowered but Felicity also heard a small buzzing sound near her. Frowning, she looked for the source of the noise, thinking it might be her cellphone – or Oliver’s. But none were at proximity.

Oliver glanced at her, having picked up the sound as well.

Felicity placed her hand on the table and narrowed her eyes when she felt there were some vibrations shaking the sleek glass surface.

She narrowed her eyes, searching for the source. Realization dawned on her as she looked at the parcel on the table, horrified.

Oliver must have come to the same conclusion as she eye-sided him glancing at the innocent-looking box as well.

“Oh no… she didn’t…” Felicity murmured in shock. “Please tell me she didn’t dare…”

“Where is that sound coming from?” Moira asked suddenly, interrupting Alfred who was still talking.

Felicity felt her face growing hot as everyone’s head turned their way. She opened her mouth, trying to come up with something when she heard Oliver snickering at her side. She turned her head glancing at him.

“Relaxing bath?” he mouthed at her, winking. Clearing his throat, he answered his mother. “It’s nothing, mom. Felicity’s mother sent her some… toys and apparently the remote activated them as well.”

“Toys? I didn’t know you had kids, Miss Smoak,” Moira smiled kindly at her.

“Oh no. I don’t have kids. It’s not for kids. It’s not even a toy. It’s more like…” she babbled, desperately trying to come up with something.

“It’s for her kitten,” Oliver chimed in, ignoring the glare she threw at him. “Felicity loves to play with her kitten after a long day at work. Apparently, it’s very… relaxing.”

Walter looked at her expectantly. “Well, let’s just open the box and turn it off, dear.”

Felicity froze as she saw Moira standing up and reaching for the box. Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no oh no.

She jumped from her seat, launching at the package. Protectively holding the still vibrating box against her chest, she glared at Oliver who was doing his best to hide his smile behind his hand. She shoved the box in her bag, throwing her jacket over it and putting it all on the floor.

Moira looked at her, surprised. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather turn it off? It is so frustrating when you run out of batteries.”

Oliver lost the battle as laughter started to shake his shoulders. Felicity kicked him as hard as she could under the table.

His yelp was mostly covered by Felicity’s reply. “No. Don’t worry. She got the wrong object, I’d rather she sends the package back right away, so she can get a refund.”

Oliver crouched, rubbing his shin, grumbling.

“That hurt,” he whispered furiously.

“Good,” she gritted back between her teeth.




 ***

Felicity had always taken pride in the fact that whatever her job was, she always did it conscientiously. She was hard-working, loyal.
Yet, as everyone was leaving the conference room, she was fully aware that she barely knew what they had talked about.

She had tried to focus on what Alfred was explaining, but Oliver had suddenly passed her a small note and she had been unable to concentrate on anything.

So, that night, on your birthday… the long relaxing bath…?

She had glared at him but unfortunately had been unable to get her mind out of the gutter for the rest of the meeting. Trust my mother to send me a freaking vibrator at work. Did she even think someone might have opened the box for safety? Oh my… please tell me the security doesn’t scan parcels. I’ll never be able to face Dig if they do. Maybe I should accept Ray’s offer and move to New York.

You know, you can tell me. I just hope I didn’t ruin your night
.

Quickly glancing at him, she noticed his smirk as he was pretending to listen to the Board Members, nodding his head every now and then. Their eyes briefly met and she felt her breath caught in her throat when she saw the laughter in his. They were twinkling with mischief and teasing, his finger tapping his lips as if to keep the smile at bay. Being this close, she couldn’t ignore how the crisp white of his shirt brought out his eyes. So perfectly blue, with a light in them she had never seen before.

As if I needed to start dreaming about his eyes as well. She shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts and keep them from wandering to her boss. Suddenly, she was hyper aware of everything. How his arm kept on brushing against hers. How he smelt like softener, soap and that little something that was uniquely him. How his voice, so deep and calm and reassuring could make her heart beat faster.

It was with relief that she gathered her belongings, the damn parcel having stopped vibrating. She took it out in order to put her notebook and pens back in her bag. Oliver picked it up right away, wearing a wolfish grin as he whispered, “Let me help you with that. Wouldn’t want you to forget it in Walter’s office.”

As they were waiting by the elevator, having parted ways with the others, she let out a resigned sigh.

“OK. Get on with it. Whatever you’re thinking… let it all out.”

Oliver grinned widely, shaking his head. “No idea what you’re talking about. I am pleased to know you have a healthy life.”

Groaning, she tilted her head back, looking at the ceiling. “I swear to God, she is so gonna hear about it.”

“Hey, I think it’s sweet that your mother cares so much about your well-being!” Oliver laughed, still holding the box despite her protests. “Although, I have to say… maybe you should tell her you have a boyfriend?”

Felicity sighed. “And have her planning my wedding? No, thank you.”

Oliver grimaced at her words. “I didn’t know it was that serious between you and Barry.”

“What do you mean?” she frowned as they stepped inside the elevator.

“Well. He’s a good guy. I mean he seems like one but… you’re young and he doesn’t even live in Starling so…”

“Long distance relationships can work, you know,” she explained calmly. “Not to mention, for now, he lives in Starling. Who knows if I won’t eventually find a job closer to him?”

“You wouldn’t choose a job just because of a boyfriend, I hope?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

She eyed him suspiciously as they stepped out of the elevator, then stopped abruptly in the hallway leading to her office.

“Oh my God! You’re one of those friends!” she exclaimed, adjusting her handbag on her shoulder.

“What?” he asked, confused. “What kind of friend?”

“You know, the kind of friends who really don’t mind about your love life until they are single. Then it’s suddenly their business because God forbid you’d find someone good while they are alone themselves!”

Oliver gasped. “That’s… totally not true! I care about you and I don’t want you to get hurt or to do something you might regret later!”

“Yet you never mentioned any of this until you broke up with your girlfriend… fiancée… whatever she was,” Felicity snorted, hurrying to her desk and putting her bag down.

“I’m trying to be a good friend! Good friends give advice, everyone knows that!”

“Yeah, right!” she laughed dryly, her hands on her hips as he shifted on his feet, fiddling with the box in his hands.

“What is wrong with you?” Oliver asked defensively.

“What is wrong… what is wrong with me?” she shouted in disbelief. “What is wrong is that you, Mister-I-just-broke-off-my-engagement, are trying to give me advice about my love life while we both know you don’t give a damn about that!”

“Of course I care! I want you to be happy!” Oliver raised his voice as well, fuming.

Felicity snorted, raising her arms. “You just don’t want lose your assistant, we both know that!”

Oliver paused, taken aback. “That is… You think I only…”

“Yes. You never had anything to say about my private life until Ray Palmer offered me a job in New York!”

He took a step back as surprise shown on his face. “He… he offered you a job? In New York? But that’s… that's on the other side of the country!”

“Like you didn’t know, he told me he mentioned it to you!”

“He asked me about your contract, I had no idea that he would…” Oliver paled. “And what did you tell him?”

She glared at him, her hands on her hips. “He gave me a couple of days to think about it.”

“And when exactly were you going to mention it to, oh I don’t know… your boss?!”

Felicity narrowed her eyes at him. “I wasn't going to bring this up because I had no intention to say yes, Oliver. But you should remember that my contract allows me to leave whenever I want to. This," she circled the room with her arms, "is only temporary.”

“The implied condition was that it would be in case you applied for another job inside this company!” he shouted, his hands picking nervously at the box he was still holding.

“If a condition is implied then it’s not written, so sue me!” She walked to him, her finger poking his chest furiously, finally noticing the parcel still in his arms.

“And stop playing with my dildo!” She snatched the box from his hand, fuming as she picked up her bag once more. “You know what. It’s 4 PM. I’m taking the rest of the day.”

She stormed out of her office, grumbling about childish behaviors.

“If it vibrates, it’s a vibrator, not a dildo!” he yelled after her as she threw him one last dirty look across her shoulder “Everyone knows that too!”

“Such a pity you don’t have the same love for semantics when you’re writing poetry! FYI apples does not rhyme with saddle!” she yelled back just as the elevator doors were closing on her.


 

Oliver stood there, in her office, confused. What the fuck just happened?

They had been teasing one minute then screaming at each other the next and he honestly couldn’t even remember about what.

And what the hell was she talking about, apples doesn't rhyme with… Oh Fuck.

He groaned, falling more than sitting on the corner of her desk, his hand covering his eyes.  So last night wasn’t a dream, I guess.

Chapter Text

"Ooh La La"

 

Dial up my number now
Weaving it through the wire
Switch me on, turn me up
Don't want it baudelaire
Just glitter lust
Switch me on, turn me up
I want to touch you
You're just made for love

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la

Coils up and round me
Teasing your poetry
Switch me on, turn me up
Oh child of Venus
You're just made for love

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la

You know I walk for days
I wanna waste some time
You wanna be so mean
You know I love to watch
I wanna love some more
It'll never be the same
A broken heel like a heart
I'll never walk again
Yeah!

I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la
I need la la la la la la
I need ooh la la la la

 

 

 

 

Felicity was still in a bad mood when she stepped into her apartment, two hours later. She had thought that taking a small stroll through the park near QC would calm her down a bit. It had, but she still felt restless and fidgety, the tension lingering in her body. Throwing her purse and the damn parcel on her table, she kicked off her shoes and took off her jacket. Walking to the kitchen area, she grabbed a glass and a bottle of red wine.

Sitting down on the couch, she propped up her feet on the coffee table as she savored her Bordeaux. Closing her eyes, she rested her head on the back of the sofa, trying to clear her thoughts. To be fair, she honestly didn’t really know what had happened at the office with Oliver. One minute they were just innocently bickering and the other she felt like throwing something out of the window. Or grab him by the tie and…

She sat up suddenly, her eyes popping open at the mental picture her brain had just conjured. Where did that come from?!

With a shaky hand, she put her glass back on the coffee table, her fingers rubbing her forehead. She and Barry had been on a few dates and a few kisses had been exchanged. Everything was going on just fine, they got along extremely well. It was easy, smooth, friendly. So what was her brain trying to do? Confuse her? Was it because of the –heated- argument she had had with Oliver? She couldn’t deny the man was handsome, attractive. Sex on legs, even. The fact that she hadn’t had sex in over a year probably didn’t help. But why did she feel like that with Oliver and not with Barry? Barry who could probably compete for boyfriend of the year title. Well if they had taken that step yet. They were still in the casual dating, having avoided any serious conversation about their official Facebook status.

Was her mother right? … Could too much sexual frustration really be messing with her?

Biting her lips, she couldn’t help her eyes traveling over her dining table, where the parcel was still waiting.

No. Felicity, don’t even think about it.

She was far from a prude and felt no shame whatsoever in getting to know her own body, but using toys… now that was something she had never done.

Groaning, she got up from her seat and gulped down the rest of her glass, walking purposefully to the offending package. She snatched a pair of scissors from her secretary and before her nerves got the better of her, quickly opened the box. Taking a deep breath, she poured the content on her table, her eyes growing wide at the vision in front of her.

Holy mother of…


 

One hour later



“That can’t be… that’s way too big to fit in there,” Felicity mumbled to herself, “and what am I even supposed to do with that… whatever that thing is?”

A knock on the door startled her, making her drop her brand new Bombex Temptation Collection 3 – thank you Google. Groaning, she let her head fall in frustration. Guessing it was probably Mrs Leyers, the very friendly old lady that was also her direct neighbor, Felicity knew it would be pointless to ignore her. She and her bloody cat…

She was almost at the door when she realized she was only wearing an oversized t-shirt. As a second knock was heard, she screamed, “I’m coming!” while grabbing a pair of sweat pans. Putting them on while jumping-walking to the door, she let out a dry laugh at the irony of the situation. I’m coming… yeah… right…

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door but stopped dead in her tracks when she realized that the person in front of her clearly wasn’t Mrs Leyers.

“Oliver?” she frowned. “What are you doing here?”

He winced, shifting on his feet. “Hum… I felt like I owed you an apology? Or at the very least an explanation?”

Crossing her arms on her chest, she narrowed her eyes. “And that couldn’t wait until tomorrow because…?”

“Because I feel like a fool and I’d rather get over with the embarrassment,” he finished her sentence in one go, his eyes averting hers as he visibly gulped.

She pinched her lips to prevent a smile as she witnessed his ears turning slightly pink. She had had the time to work on her own anger and felt like she, too, owed him an apology for snapping at him the way she had.

Stepping aside, she tilted her head. “Well, come on in.”

Felicity let him in then walked to her kitchen. “Chamomile, as usual?”

As she was grabbing two mugs from a cupboard, she noticed he hadn’t answered her. “Oliver? Chamomile?” she repeated, a bit louder.

Hearing him clearing his throat but still not answering, she leaned over the small counter. “Are you OK?”

That seemed to finally get his attention as he quickly turned towards her. “Yes. It’s mine. I mean it’s fine,” he stuttered. “I just… I’m sorry I should have called or… something. I didn’t mean to interrupt anything.”

She waved her hand dismissively. “Nah, don’t worry. Nothing that can’t wait. Besides I’ve had the time to cool down a bit, so I’m good now.”

Smiling reassuringly, she rummaged through another cupboard. “Do you want some shortbreads?”

“No, thanks. I’m not really hungry.” He shifted awkwardly on his feet, hands in his pockets. She handed him his cup of tea and grabbed the package of cookies as she joined him in the living room.

“Oh. Well I’m absolutely starving so I hope you don’t mind,” she laughed slightly, biting in the buttery delicacy.

Oliver choked on the sip he took, quickly putting the cup down. Coughing violently, his eyes watering he murmured something that sounded vaguely like “Yeah, not really surprised, there…”

Frowning at him while patting his back, she asked again. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Mmhmhh,” he answered non-committedly, looking at his shoes.

“If you say so…” she said slowly, still unsure of his behavior. “Let’s have a…” she stopped herself mid-sentence as she saw what had probably caused Oliver’s discomfort. The multiple vibrators and dildos her mother had sent her were all neatly organized on her table – by size because she might have that ridiculous habit.

Opening and closing her mouth like a fish out of the water, she felt her face burning, rivaling with Oliver’s now crimson face. “That’s… that is so… so not what you… what you think it is.”

Oliver’s eyes switched from her face to the table, doubt written on his face.

“No, really. It just relaxes me.” She closed her eyes when she saw him wince. “Not like this!”

Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to look at him. “I dismantle things. Then build them back again. It calms me.”

Walking to the table, she picked the biggest vibrator, the one she had been working on when he had knocked on her door. “That’s the one that switched on during the meeting. There must be a short-circuit but God help me I can’t find what’s wrong. It’s so much more complex than I thought,” she explained, talking with her hands and waving the sex toy around.

“Can we please not mention God when we’re having this particular conversation?” Oliver deadpanned. “I’m pretty sure he’d very much rather be left out of it.”

She glared at him. “It’s not like I was using it on myself. I opened it, played a bit with the wires, tried to fix it. I swear, Oliver, it’s like a puzzle but much more simple, you just have to sort the wires. It’s very… stress-relieving.”

“Pretty sure that’s not what your mother had in mind when she sent them to you,” he smirked.

She smiled cheekily as she finally put the sex toy down again. “It worked anyway.”

He grinned back at her, obviously reassured that their relationship seemed to be back to normal.

Felicity took a sip of her tea, sitting on a chair while inviting him to do the same. She folded a leg on the chair as she took another cookie.

“Listen, Oliver…”

“Felicity, I…”

They both started at the same time. Oliver shook his head, smiling softly at her. “Ladies first.”

Breathing deeply, she fiddled with her mug. “I’m sorry I snapped at you. I wasn’t being fair. I think I might have over-reacted. A bit. A tiny teeny little bit,” she added, bringing her thumb and index finger close.

He chuckled. “No. I shouldn’t have tried to meddle with your personal life. And… despite how much I try not to think about it, you were right… our work situation was only meant to be temporary. And God knows you deserve to find the job of your dreams.”

She smiled, touched by his words. “thank you. While we’re at it, I meant it. What I said about not considering Ray’s offer. I don’t intend on leaving you when QC is in such an unstable position.”

Pausing, she drank a sip. “Also, I have to admit. Being your assistant is not as awful as I thought it would be.”

“Is it, now?” Oliver smiled widely at her “Maybe I’ve been too easy on you, then.”

Felicity grinned “Perhaps. As you know, I love a challenge.”

“That I do know, Miss Smoak” he gazed at her, his hand still on his mug “although I have to admit I would have never expected to walk on you autopsying half a dozen innocent dildos.”

“Vibrators. If it vibrate, it’s a vibrator. Not a dildo. Semantics, Mister Queen…” she teasingly corrected him, trying not to laugh when she saw his cheeks burning up again.

“I’m so sorry about last night. I… I honestly thought I had dreamed that part or I would have apologized right away” he rubbed his forehead, grimacing with embarrassment.

“Well… the whole phone call at 3 am is a big no no for me” she unfolded her legs, sitting straight on her chair “but the poem wasn’t that bad…”

Oliver snorted “please. I have the original version on a poster of… it doesn’t matter. Point is, I know it was dreadful.”

“I give you B. For the effort” she giggled “and the imagination. I was very pleased to know I am as gracious as a cow.”

“A heifer. Not a cow. Don’t flatter yourself” he mockingly glared at her.

“Can you blame me though? Two of the most eligible bachelors of the country all but serenaded me in the middle of the night. My ego got a big boost out of it” she straightened her shoulders, pointing her chin upwards.

He laughed, relaxing back on his chair as his eyes wandered on her table “so we can pretend last night never happened?”

“Oh, I’m not sure about that. You have excuses. I mean you’ve had a lot going on. Tommy, on the other hand… I might have to get back at him for that” she sighed “It’s a matter of honor, after all. Wouldn’t want him to think he can get away with waking me up at 3 in the morning.”

“If you need any help with that, don’t hesitate.”

“I thought he was your friend?” she exclaimed, her eyes twinkling.

“Exactly. His role was to make sure I wouldn’t make an ass of myself. He miserably failed,” Oliver explained sternly.

“Well… to be fair, it’s a pretty hard quest to begin with.”

As she noticed him looking at the vibrator she had been working on, for at least the second time since she had put it down, she cleared her throat. “OK, are you going to tell me what’s up with my Bombex Temptation Collection 3?”

“That’s its name?” Oliver snorted.

“Yes, it is. I even googled it to try to find some kind of plan of the wirings.” She paused, thinking out loud, “weirdly enough, I couldn’t find any. What do people do when they malfunction? I’d figure you wouldn’t bring it back to the store, so it would make sense to have a list like a guidelines or a checklist or something…”

Oliver raised his eyebrows.

“Hey, don’t judge. You’re the one who’s been staring at it,” she defended herself. “So come on… what’s wrong? I would have never thought Oliver Queen would be squeamish about anything related to sexuality.”

He glared at her, pinching his lips. “It just… it’s distracting, OK? And you have to admit that the size of that thing makes it hard to look away!”

She perked an eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure that’s a sentence you never thought you’d say, right?”

“Oh, I can't deny I usually hear it, not say it,” he smirked, “but that line was never about something purple, or made of plastic or…” he trailed off, his attention caught by another object. “Is that a duck?!”

“Mmh?” she glanced at the small pink rubber duck that was mostly hidden by the big pot of flowers on her table. “Yep. They make some for adults, now.”

“Really? What’s the point?” he asked, genuinely intrigued.

Smirking, she reached across the table, picking up the innocent-looking toy. She flicked the little button and watched as it roared to life.

“It goes in the bath,” she winked as she handed him the small duck. “Does Mister Queen want to feel the difference from a regular rubber duck?”

Oliver shook his head vehemently, hiding his hands on his lap. “Just please… can you cover them or something?”

Felicity fist pumped in victory as she covered the offending objects with a big scarf. “You really are squeamish!” 

Her little fist pump made him laugh as he tried to defend himself. “I’m not! But you’re… you’re just there and… I’m here and… we’re sitting in your living room, at a table covered in sex toys and screwdrivers and…”

She giggled, trying to muffle the sound behind her hand. “If it’s the screwdriver that is turning you off, I can put it in my tool box.”

Oliver tilted his head, his grin so wide it hurt.

She shook her head, her eyes wide with horror. “Oh God. No. Tell me that didn’t sound like I think it did.”

“Well, if you’re asking…”

“No. I wasn’t asking!” She stood up, picking up their mugs as she mumbled to herself, “I need more chamomile.”

Still smiling, Oliver followed her to the small kitchen area where she was already boiling water. “I don’t know if you remember but Tommy mentioned, a while ago, that we could go to Las Vegas. I think I’d like to meet your mom. She seems… interesting.”

Felicity rolled her eyes. “Oh, believe me. Interesting doesn’t even begin to cover it. And no way.”

“You still have to celebrate your birthday, though…” he trailed off innocently.

She turned her head to glare at him, ready to threaten to put him on the non-fly list when she suddenly yelped.

“Damn it!” she screamed, holding her hand.

“You OK?” asked Oliver, alarmed. “Did you burn yourself?”

Wincing, Felicity turned off the stove, still clutching her hand to her chest. “Yes. Frack. I touched the stove.”

Oliver gently nudged her to the sink, softly grabbing her hand as he put it under the cold water. “Stay put.”

He quickly went to the living room, coming back with a chair. “Come on, sit. You need to keep it under water for at least a few minutes. Do you have any balm or aloe vera?”

“Yep. Bathroom. Top shelf.”

He was barely gone a minute when he came back with an ointment and a bandage. Leaning over her, he tried to get a look at her hand. “Hard to see but it looks pretty big. Maybe we should go to the hospital.”

“Oliver, don’t be ridiculous. It’s a stupid burn. It hurts like a bitch, but it will be gone in a few days.”

“Are you sure?” he asked, worried.

She huffed a laugh. “Yes. It’s not that I don’t want to test that wonderful healthcare QC offers to its employees, believe me. As long as it hurts, it means there is no severe damage.”

He went to grab another chair and sat down next to her, shutting the tap. He carefully held her hand, patting it dry with a couple of tissues. She quietly observed him while he was absorbed by his task, his eyebrows crinkling lightly. She felt her fingers twitching with the desire to touch his cheeks, to see if his scruff was as rough as it looked… Would it scratch her fingertips? Her eyes were attracted to his mouth as he absently licked his lips before he raised her hand to his face, softly blowing on the still tender skin. How come she had never noticed how soft his lips looked, offering such a deep contrast with his strong jaw?

He put her hand on his own thigh for a few seconds while he opened the tube of balm. It’s only when she saw his lips moving for the second time that she realized he had been talking to her.

“Felicity? Felicity? Does it hurt?”

She shook her head, clearing her thoughts. “Hum. No. It’s OK.”

She forced her eyes to focus on more innocent parts of him. Hands. Hands are good.

He delicately picked up her hand, lightly massaging the balm into her inflamed skin. How could hands so big and strong be so tender and delicate when they were touching her? Was his touch always this hesitant, almost… venerating?

The buzzing sound coming from her bell startled the both of them.

“Were you waiting for someone?” Oliver asked, drying his hands on a towel.

“… No… I don’t think so,” she answered as she went to pick up the small interphone. “Hello? Oh… Hi. Sure.”

Biting her lips, she turned back to Oliver. “I completely forgot. Barry was supposed to come by.”

His face fell as he stood up, quickly washing his hands. “It’s my fault. I dropped by unannounced.”

Felicity was about to reply when a soft knock on her door interrupted her. Smiling apologetically at Oliver, she opened it, letting Barry in as he leaned down to gently peck her on the lips.

Oliver cringed, diverting his eyes. “I’ll just… I’ll leave you two to… I’ll just go.”

“Oh, Oliver! Hi!” Barry grinned at him.

“You don’t have to, we were just going to…”

Oliver interrupted her. “No, really. I just wanted us to clear the air and we did. It’s good. I’ll see you at the office!”

In his haste to get his jacket from the living room, he almost tripped on a chair. “Don’t forget to put the bandage on your hand.”

Felicity didn’t even have time to reply, he was already walking past them, almost running down the hallway.

She blinked several times, wondering what the hell had shaken him until she finally closed the door behind him.

“You’re hurt?” Barry asked in concern as he stepped out of his shoes.

“Stupid burn,” she mumbled as she showed her left palm. “I just need to cover it. Oliver already took care of it.”

He winced. “Ouch. Let me help you.”

She followed him back to the sink where Oliver had left the medical supplies. Barry carefully washed his hands then picked up the bandage.

Felicity obediently gave him her hand which he proceeded to wrap. She couldn’t help a hiss when his nail grazed the tender skin.

“Sorry!” Barry looked at her, wide-eyed. “So sorry!”

“No, it’s OK. Caught me off guard more than anything,” she reassured him stiffly while she observed him getting back to his task. His hands were a bit smaller than Oliver’s, definitely frailer. Clumsier as well, which suited his personality. At least I’m not fantasizing about them…

“You’re alright? Your face is quite red,” Barry asked as he finished wrapping her hand.

“Hum. Yeah. Yeah, fine. Peachy! It’s probably all that chamomile I’ve had. I read somewhere it can cause vasodilatation,” she rambled, praying Barry wasn’t a connoisseur.

He stared at her for a few seconds. “I… I didn’t know that.”

“Me neither! New studies, from England, I think…” she trailed off.

Barry was about to reply when his phone rang. Saved by the bell.

Smiling apologetically at her, he fished it out of his pocket, a soft expression appearing on his face as he saw the caller’s identity. “I’m sorry, I should probably get this.”

“Go ahead!” Felicity reassured him, relieved by the distraction. She barely paid attention to him and his conversation as he sat down on the couch in the living room, her mind buzzing with thoughts and emotions. Why does proximity with Oliver makes her heart beat faster, while the same situation with Barry just feels borderline awkward? She was physically more used to Barry touching her, but she had never felt her fingers tingling with the need to touch him. She bit nervously on her nail, absentmindedly looking at Barry who was wrapping up his call.

“Sorry. It was Iris,” he quickly explained.

Felicity pinched her lips as she joined him on the sofa. “You two are really close, aren’t you? I mean she’s probably the only person you never decline a call from.”

Barry smiled as a small blush started to appear on his face. “We’re just… we’re very good friends and she’s… she’s been a part of my life ever since I can… hum.”

Felicity’s gentle smile stopped him as she put a reassuring hand on his arm. “I’m not judging or being jealous or anything. But the smile you get when she calls you… that makes me think she might be a bit more than a good friend.”

Barry opened his mouth, then closed it again as if struggling with forming the right words. Taking a deep breath, he finally said, “I’m sorry. I really like you, Felicity. You’re amazing. Perfect. Absolutely perfect, you’re everything I want…”

She cut him off. “But the spark isn’t there, right?”

He was about to apologize again when he saw the relief in her eyes.

“No. I take it it’s not there for you either?” he winced as he settled back more comfortably.

Felicity giggled. “No. I wish it was, because we are so perfect for each other… on paper. Everything is so simple and easy but I feel like maybe we’re just supposed to…”

“To be friends,” he finished for her, grinning.

“Yep,” she said, accentuating the p. “So… tell me about that someone who is probably more than a good friend.”

“Alright. But afterwards, it’s your turn,” Barry smiled teasingly at her.

“I don’t… there’s no one," she shook her head vehemently.

He observed her quietly, his eyes soft and understanding. “I think there is. It takes one to know one, after all.”


 
 

The next three weeks were mostly quiet for Felicity and Oliver. They both fell back into their comfortable routine, secretly glad Walter and Alfred were mostly taking charge of the whole Isabel issue. That finally allowed Oliver to focus 100% on his job, and what a difference did it make. He was hell bend on supporting Walter the best he could, charming potential investors and long-term backers with an ease that was troubling to her. When she had arrived at work a few days after their small fight, she had been surprised to see one of the janitors installing a brand new coffee maker directly in Oliver’s office. She had raised her eyebrows at her boss who had just shrugged and mumbled that at least now he wouldn’t have to come up with ridiculous excuses to his guests as to why he couldn’t ask her.

She had pinched her lips, having witnessed his lame attempts several times. Her favorite so far was when he had told Walter that her mother had forgotten her in a Starbucks when she was just a kid and the resulting trauma was still paralyzing her whenever she had to come close to a coffee maker.

Despite having teased him mercilessly about it, she had been secretly touched that he was ready to go to such lengths for the well-being of their relationship – his words, not hers.

If Oliver’s work had been stellar, Felicity, on the other hand, had been suffering from distraction. She had found herself staring more and more at her boss, wondering quietly why she had never noticed how his back would stretch his shirts up to the point she could guess each and every one of his muscles. Or how his hands were always so warm whenever he was touching her. Always innocently, lightly pressing her shoulder or her arm when he was trying to get her attention – which happened more and more these days, him being unaware that it only made the situation worse for her.

She then tried to keep his eyes off him as much as possible, focusing on anything else she could find. Her pen, a green plant, his pen,… Oh God, no, not his pen, he’s holding it and his fingers are so assured and strong and…

Forcing her attention on the sound of his voice wasn’t helping either. Somehow, her brain had come up with this ridiculous idea that Oliver used a special voice just for her. Softer, quieter. Intimate. It was like liquid salted butter caramel, comforting, soothing and making her want to lick every single one of… OK, so focusing on the voice is a bad idea too.


She had no idea when she had started seeing Oliver as… well, Oliver. It probably had been gradual, but when he was still with Laurel it was easy to ignore those feelings and push them aside. Now, on the other hand…

 “Felicity? Are you listening to me?” Oliver’s voice reached through her daydream. They were sitting side by side at the conference table, going through a new contract.

“Oh God, yes. Yes I am,” she answered in a painful voice.

Oliver stared at her, narrowing his eyes. “Are you OK? Last time you were that distracted, it was because of that private...”

“Private? I wasn’t thinking about your privates!” she quickly defended herself.

“… investigator my ex hired,” he finished slowly, eyeing her suspiciously. “Felicity, you look like you’re hiding something. Is there anything you need to tell me?”

He slowly rubbed his hand on her shoulder in what was supposed to be a comforting gesture but really didn’t help her clear her head.

Taking a deep breath, she willed herself to calm down a bit, cursing at whatever was happening inside her body to make her feel like a fourteen year-old girl sitting next to her crush for the first time.

“I think all this pressure is finally catching up with me. These last few months have been crazy,” she answered, offering a small reassuring smile. There. Stay vague. Nothing specific.

Oliver frowned. “Are you sure that’s it?”

“I promise. I’m a bit on edge, I won’t lie, but it’s gonna pass eventually.” Oh God, I hope it’s going to pass.

Sighing, she glanced at the clock, noticing it was almost time for the board meeting. Isabel and Walter were supposed to officially defend their candidacy for the CEO position. Hopefully everything would go smoothly and Walter would be appointed by the end of the day. That was if the board could reach an agreement with a majority of six against four. If not, they would have to ask all share-holders to cast a vote, something they really wanted to avoid seeing as how Isabel had managed to get in touch with a lot of them. Not knowing how far her influence extended to, it was a situation they were hoping to avoid.

“It’s almost time,” she grimaced, nervously munching on her pen.

“Yes.” Oliver quickly checked the time on his watch. “We probably should get going.”

As he stood up, picking up his jacket and straightening his tie, she realized for the first time the height difference between them. She was only a bit shorter than the norm, but Oliver was taller than the norm. 

Thankfully she had invested into a few pairs of higher heels, but despite them she was still noticeably shorter than him, barely reaching his shoulder.

“Felicity… you’re daydreaming again,” Oliver teased her, noticing her eyes lingering on his shoulders.

Shaking her head, she mumbled, “sorry. You’re just tall. It’s distracting.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I’ve been this tall for a while, you know.”

Glaring at him, she picked up the files that were still discarded on the conference table. “Hey it took you a while to notice I had legs, remember?”

He had the decency to look sheepish at her words, a small nervous smile turning up the corner of his lips. Leaning, he whispered in her ear, “To my defense, I never really saw them until that morning in Ivy Town.”

Feeling her eyes fluttering at the feeling of his warm breath caressing the sensitive skin of her neck, Felicity mentally cursed her –too long- forced celibacy.

“We’re going to be late,” she squeaked, not recognizing her own voice as he took a step back.

She all but rushed out of the room, carelessly dropping the files on her desk, not trusting herself to put them back in the right place. Grabbing her bag and notes, she followed him to the elevator, noticing the thoughtful look he threw at her but doing her best to act as normally as possible. Which would have probably been easier if her brain didn’t keep on sending her explicit pictures of how handy such a height difference could be.

Felicity had barely gathered her thoughts when she sat down next to Oliver in the big conference room on the top floor. The board members were there, as well as Isabel and her own assistant, Mark. Moira arrived shortly after them, sitting on the other side of Oliver.

Walter was given the stand first. Felicity let his charming voice lull her, thinking that if she could, she would probably vote for him just to get to hear his accent as much as possible.

The presentation Alfred had prepared was thorough, professional, very much like the candidate. Numbers and graphics were shown, focusing on the experience Walter had and how reliable he was seen in the business world. Moira also voiced the unconditional support of her family, assuring that this would have been Robert’s choice. Oliver also took the stand, confirming that Walter at the head of the company was the most stable move, having been his father’s right hand for years.

Isabel’s presentation was brief, short, and straight to the point. She insisted on how her approach for the company had always been innovative, turned to the future, and how much, now that she was expecting Robert’s child, securing his legacy had more value to her than it could have to Walter or any other candidate. In short, not only was she more than capable, but she also had personal motives to make sure this company would be as thriving as possible.

“I want QC to be a world leader in new resources. Because I want my child to see what his father has built, since he won’t get to know him personally. And because this company means everything to me. I don’t want to look back, I don’t want to carry on the same old policy. I want to respect what Robert built and take it to the next generation.” She concluded, her hand lingering over her stomach; she was barely showing, probably just around 4 months along.

Moira had stayed stoic during the entire speech, her head held high. You’ve got to give this to Moira Queen. She does deserve her last name. It was only when Isabel was about to sit down that she asked, “How can we be sure the child you are carrying is indeed Robert’s? Don’t get me wrong… I am not implying anything, merely making sure that the members don’t take a decision based on elements that we are not sure of.”

Isabel looked at her, her eyes hard and defiant. “I knew you were going to ask that. That’s why I had an amniocentesis as soon as I hit the 4 month mark. They have extracted DNA which can be compared as soon as you want with another child of Robert.”

Both women stared at each other from across the table, neither willing to back down, until Alfred coughed awkwardly, forcing everyone’s attention on him once more.

“Alright. We are going to vote. Take the ballot you have in front of you on the table, circle the name of the one you want to establish as the new CEO of Queen Consolidated.”

Another of the board members then proceeded to collect them all in a small basket. Alfred didn’t waste any time, reading the small pieces of paper aloud.

“Walter, Isabel, Isabel, Isabel, Walter, Walter, Isabel, Walter, Walter…”

Only one ballot was still in the basket. If it was Walter, then he would be officially named CEO. It if was Isabel…

Alfred opened the last ballot, pinching his lips. Oliver and Felicity shared a look, already understanding that the outcome wouldn’t be the one they had hoped for.

“Isabel. We have a tie.”

Everyone started to whisper, Isabel looking triumphant while Moira took a deep calming breath, her face stoic.

“Quiet, everyone. We all know the rules. We are going to have to ask the share-holders to vote. The more shares they have, the more votes they will get. I guess the rest of my week is going to be busier than I thought…” Alfred trailed off.

“When can we expect this vote to take place?” Isabel asked.

“As soon as possible. But we are going to need at least 10 days to make sure everything is legally binding. Every share-holder has to be informed and given the possibility to cast his vote.”

“How are they going to do so? Some don’t even live in the country,” one of the members asked, frowning.

“That’s something for the legal department… I assume they are going to be have to elect a representative. Usually it’s one of the board members or a neutral attorney at law. They can also choose to pass on the vote.”

Felicity, having kept her eyes on Isabel the whole time noticed right away the flicker of satisfaction on her face. It suddenly dawned on her. And that’s how having a lot of share-holders on your side can make you CEO…

She discreetly grabbed Oliver’s arm, who was whispering something in his mother’s ear. He turned to her and she understood, from his dark expression, that he had come to the same conclusion as her.

As the board members left the room, having set their eyes on the small buffet waiting for them, Isabel took her time gathering her things.

“So I assume that’s why you visited Mrs Keiffer and so many of her investors in the past months,” Oliver quietly said, startling Isabel.

“What are you talking about?” she answered but her shoulders stiffening gave her away.

“You know exactly what I am talking about. I’ve known for a while and we’ve been on the lookout for your next move actually.” Oliver stood up, helping his mother put on her coat. “What I’d really like to know, though, is how on earth could you have foreseen my father’s death?”

His tone was light, as if he was talking about the weather and not implying she might have had something to do with Robert’s passing away.

“Oliver.” Moira put a hand on his chest. “Maybe it’s not…”

“I think it is the right time, mom,” Oliver quickly assured her, not looking at her, his eyes still firmly on the brunette.

Having taken a few breaths, Isabel finally replied. “I don’t know what you’re implying exactly…”

Oliver cut her off. “I’m not implying anything. I’m genuinely wondering. It will be easy to prove how you spent months scheming behind everybody’s back. It will be even more easy for everyone to assume that you are either a seer or…”

“I have nothing to do with Robert’s death!” Isabel curtly said, her breathing short and ragged.

Oliver let out a dry laugh. “Ever since you’ve been promoted, many weird things have happened at QC… it’s not that hard for people to come to conclusions. The gas explosion, my father’s accident… it almost looks as if someone had the idea of weakening the company to get their hands on it.”

Isabel paled, flinching. “I don’t know where you’re going with this…”

“You know exactly where I’m going with that, let’s not fool ourselves.”

Moira and Felicity shared a look, both feeling useless in this duel.

Oliver and Isabel glared at each other for what seemed like hours, until she let her eyes down, defeating a bit.

“It’s not what you think this is…” Isabel sat down, her voice smaller than usual.

“Oh really? Feel free to explain, then.” Oliver leaned on the table, resting on his hands.

“Your father promised to promote me last year. He kept on pushing back the deadline,” she laughed bitterly. “The truth is he was hoping for you to step up so he could give you the job. You never did, though.”

Oliver’s head bowed slightly at her words and Felicity had to fight the urge to put a comforting hand on his back. She knew Isabel’s words must have hurt him, knowing his father still had hoped for him to take his responsibilities.

“I got tired of his empty promises. I deserved… I deserve that job. I’m dedicated to work and great at it,” Isabel continued, her eyes hardening, her finger tapping on the table. “I wasn’t getting it because of you. Because you’re his son, even if you never did anything to earn that position. He was holding out this promotion for you.”

“So you decided that getting knocked up and having his child would put us even?” Oliver snorted. Felicity knew he was just hiding the pain of knowing that his father had always wanted for him to become vice-president and had waited as long as possible for him to get it together. Unfortunately, he had died before he could see the man his son was turning into.

Isabel shook her head, her eyes tearing up lightly. She gulped, visibly forcing herself to swallow her emotion.s “I never intended to get pregnant. Your father didn’t want any other child, he had always been clear about that. I knew it would be pointless.”

“Then… what happened to make him change his mind?” Felicity asked out loud, unable to stop herself.

“He offered you the position in exchange for your silence.”

Everyone turned their head to Moira. She was looking at Isabel, understanding written all over her face.

Isabel briefly closed her eyes. “Yes.”

“But… everyone would have known it was his child anyway, how…” Oliver trailed off as the answer became obvious. “Did he offer you the job under the condition you would abandon the child or…”

“The condition was an abortion. I accepted. I was supposed to go through with it the day after Robert died. Then knowing he… that child is all I have left of him, I couldn’t… I couldn’t do it.” Isabel struggled to finish her sentence, her hands shaking on the glass table.

She took a deep breath. “I loved him. He loved me too. But he had always been clear he would never leave his family. I accepted that. That’s why I worked so hard here. It became the family I could never have with him.”

Oliver and Felicity shared a look while Moira was still looking at the other woman. Both could read easily what the other one was thinking. They felt, deep down in their guts, that Isabel was telling the truth.

Seeing their expressions softening and showing pity, Isabel straightened her shoulders, her eyes darkening as she stared at Moira. "Don't get me wrong. You had the man, the husband, the father. I'm going to fight to get the company, tooth and nail."

Chapter Text

"Miss Sweeney"

 

Bzzz.... Bzzz....
Hi, hello, Miss Sweeney?
Could you please come in my office for a second?
I'm heading home for the day
And I thought it'd be good for you and me to check in
I met with the gal from Expo
And they do have the "slab" cabinets in white
She thinks we can take the measurements
down at the site
If we do that, we'll be just fine, Miss Sweeney
That's all I got to say to you at this time, Miss Sweeney
Actually there's one other thing on my mind

Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear
The sun always shines when you're near
I'm waiting until you love me

I'm so sorry Miss Sweeney
I don't know where that came from
I think I was overcome by spontaneous emotion
Anyway, the cash deposit of $5,000 will need to be sent to the property owner tomorrow.
If there are any problems with the deposit or contract
Don't be afraid to holler,
I don't want to have a approve each stinking dollar
that we borrow
Aww forget it, Miss Sweeney

Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear
The sun always shines when you're near
I'm waiting until you love me

Miss Sweeney, I got to admit the truth
I am totally head over heels in love with you
Every day you come to the office looking fine
Navy business suit clinging tightly to your spine
You ask me if I'm ready to get down to work
Sweeney, baby, I'm ready... be my...

Girl, you make the rain clouds disappear
The sun always shines when you're near
I'm waiting until you love me
Girl, you light the skies of my life
I swear I will make you my wife
I'm waiting until you love me

 

The walk back to their office was silent. Felicity’s mind was already trying to solve the puzzle of Isabel’s new revelations. Sure enough, it brought light to her actions and answered a lot of questions. Yet Felicity felt like there were still many things that were left without explanation. Something was nagging her, as if she was supposed to remember a detail but her mind was completely blank. Sighing, she sat down at her desk, willing herself to focus on the most urging matters. Moira had left the conference room quickly after Isabel, telling Oliver about getting in touch with their lawyer. The rumors of another potential heir to Robert Queen’s wealth were surely going to reach the news outlets sooner rather than later. Not to mention all the legal implications of that. Could this still unborn child be given a part of Robert’s inheritance? Judging from the hard look on Mrs Queen’s face, Felicity had a strong feeling she wouldn’t let that happen without a fierce fight.

Grabbing the contract she and Oliver had been working on earlier, she quickly glanced through it, checking one last time that they had edited all the problematic parts before she could send it to the legal department. She was just about to go through the marketing budget of a new campaign when she realized how silent the whole place was. Even if they were working in separate offices, Oliver usually left the door open and she could always hear him scribbling down, generally groaning with frustration at yet another technical report he could barely make sense of, or the faint sound of his pacing when he was facing a problem he couldn’t solve. Yet, apart from the sound of the paper sheets she was turning every now and then, there wasn’t a sound to be heard. Glancing up, she saw him standing at the window, staring down to the city at his feet. It had been a while since she had last seen him do that and she felt a pinch in her heart, knowing it was his own way of dealing with the emotions caused by Isabel’s words. Oliver had had the time to accept his father’s actions, and made relative peace with it. But the new reveal that Robert had kept faith in him for as long as he possibly could, that he had always hoped for his son to step up and be willing to take charge in his professional life… it reopened a wound Oliver had barely stitched up. Felicity knew that Robert’s death would always haunt his son, because of the last words they had shared but also because Oliver knew his father would never see the man he was becoming. He had finally understood what Robert had always wanted for him. But it had taken him too long.

Pinching her lips, she went back to her task, knowing there was nothing she could do or say at the moment to help him. He needed a bit of time to digest everything, to let everything sink in. There was a time where he would have coped with all those feelings with girls and parties… but that time was over now.

When she looked up from the report, the light had visibly dimmed. Checking the clock, she saw that it was already way past six, much later than the time when she usually left the office. As she saw Oliver still in the same position, she sighed, shaking her head.

Standing up, she quietly made her way to his office, softly knocking on the glass to attract his attention. He turned his head instantly, his eyes still lost in thought as a small smile stretched his lips when he saw her standing on the threshold, bare foot.

“Why do you keep wearing heels if you just take them off as soon as you can?” he asked, laughing slightly.

“If you were a woman, you wouldn’t have to ask that question,” she scolded him as she walked to him, secretly relieved to see he was at least in the mood to tease her. “I went through the marketing budget like you asked. There are several points that don’t add up, you should take a look at it.”

He grabbed the file, already opening it.

“Tomorrow,” she added sternly. “It’s almost 7, you should go home.”

Oliver distractedly shook his head. “No. I’d rather go through this first.”

“Oliver…” she whispered, the tenderness in her voice efficiently forcing him to look at her. “You won’t find what you’re looking for in those papers.”

He gazed into her eyes, probably knowing it was foolish to pretend he didn’t understand what she meant.

She kept her eyes on his, not breaking away, seeing the regrets and remorse that tore her heart. At that moment, she realized there was little she wouldn’t do to bring a smile back on his face, and chase the darkness away. “Although if you’re having problems sleeping, that might be exactly what you need. I swear to God, you almost ended up with a snoring assistant sprawled on her desk.”

He huffed out a small laugh, closing his eyes for the shortest second. His shoulders visibly relaxed as she witnessed a bit of light coming back in his eyes.

“That’s something I would pay good money to see,” he lightly tapped her nose, smiling softly at her. “Although I already had the unfortunate chance to hear your snoring.”

She was grinning at him, amused by his familiar “nose-tapping”, as she had secretly called it, when the rest of his words caught up with her.

Gasping, she took a step back. “I do NOT snore!”

“How would you know that exactly?” he smirked, folding his arms.

“Because… because I know it!” she huffed, grabbing the file from his hand and lightly tapping him on the arm with it. “And even if I did, a real gentleman would never mention it in the first place!”

“Oh, Miss Smoak… I thought I already warned you: I am no gentleman,” he murmured, his voice deeper than usual as he took her hand in his, gently forcing her to give back the file.

She unconsciously licked her lips as she realized how close he was. Close enough to hear the sound of his breathing, to feel how warm his breath was on her skin. Feeling her heart beat faster, she tried to keep her own breathing calm and slow but miserably failed when his eyes dropped to her lips, darkening with what she could only describe as desire.  The thought was enough to shake her from her trance. Oliver Queen, looking at you with desire? Yeah, right. Must be the lighting.

Gulping, she tried to get back to her senses, her hand reaching nervously for her high ponytail. “I should… I guess I should go?”

He gazed at her fondly, a small smile tucking at his lips. “Yes. It’s late.”

“Alright. I’m going to go. Like now. Right… right now,” she mumbled, unable to force her feet to move away from him, from the hand that was still holding hers, his thumb lightly stroking her wrist.

“Yes,” he whispered again. “You should.”

“I’m…” she coughed, “I’m going to need my hand.”

Oliver frowned, obviously not understanding her. “For what?”

“For… well. For things. And stuff. Stuff where I need both my hands. Or at least the right one. Because I’m right handed,” she rambled, her voice becoming smaller with each word, ending up being barely above a whisper. “And you’re holding it. My hand, I mean. The right one.”

His gaze dropped to their hands and she could pin-point the exact moment when he realized he had been stroking her skin for a while as his cheeks turned a light shade of pink. A part of her cheered at the idea that she had the power to make Oliver Queen blush and that was enough to bring a smile on her lips.

“I’m sorry,” Oliver said, letting go of her hand immediately.

“Not a problem. I tend to grip on things regularly as well,” she reassured him, waving her hand dismissively.

As he raised an eyebrow, she tried to backtrack. “I mean… unconsciously speaking. And by things, I mean objects. Like… like a pen or…or…”

“… a duck?” he asked her teasingly.

Gasping, she felt her cheeks burn with embarrassment. “Oliver!”

He grinned widely. “Did you just stomp your foot?”

“No… I… maybe!” putting her hands on her hips, she glared at him, daring him to add anything as she grabbed his file and threw it on his desk “Anyway… This can wait until tomorrow. You go home, spend time with your family. Get some sleep.”

Oliver winced, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Eyeing him suspiciously, Felicity wondered out loud “Is this the reason why you’re still here? You don’t want to go home?”

Pinching his lips, he ruffled his hair “I just don’t feel like… going home right now. It’s not that I’m trying to run away or avoid them but… I don’t feel like there’s anything I can do over there.”

She quietly observed him, understanding he needed more time to process everything. Nodding her head, she silently went to his desk, picking up the phone “What do you say? Chinese or Italian?”

Oliver let out a relieved sigh as he untied his tie “Chinese.”


**

“So, you mean we should cancel the TV ads and focus on our website?” Oliver asked, as he picked up the box of caramelized pork.

“No. What I mean is that if we want to send the message that we are orienting our projects towards the future, we also need to be consistent in the way we advertise it. We need to be more present on the internet, and that starts with our own website. It really needs some improvement,” Felicity answered, battling with a springroll.

Oliver grinned at her unsuccessful efforts. “You know, it’d be much easier with chopsticks.”

He then proceeded to grab one of her springrolls with his own sticks, wiggling his eyebrows as he shoved the whole thing in his mouth.

She narrowed her eyes at him. “Are you done with the whole show-off thingy? Mister Oliver Queen can eat with chopsticks. Congratulations.”

He quickly swallowed his food, smirking. “You’re only saying that because you’re jealous you can’t do it.”

Felicity pinched her lips, trying to look as dignified as possibl.e “Forks are perfectly acceptable cutlery, even when you’re eating Asian food.”

“Again, you’re only saying that because…”

She threw one of her own useless sticks at him, cutting him off. “If you say that once more…”

He raised his eyebrows at her as he saw the stick bouncing off his chest and landing on the floor. He was sitting at the table of their conference room, his legs stretched out on another chair next to him. The first buttons of his shirt were open and he had rolled up his sleeves. He calmly put his box of food back on the table and leaned towards her, putting his feet down. She was sitting right next to the chair he had used to prop up his legs and he only had to move a couple of inches to tower over her.

“I believe this calls for measures,” he playfully lectured her. “I can’t let you think it’s OK to throw dangerous objects at your boss.”

“Dangerous? It’s a chopstick,” she rolled her eyes. “And I barely threw it at you.”

“I think it’s a call for help. I think you want another lesson,” he whispered as he grabbed her own food and moved it back on the table as well.

“A… lesson?” Her eyes widened slightly.

“Yes. Chopsticks lesson.”

“Oh,” she breathed with a slight hint of disappointment.

Oliver smirked. “Why… are we disappointed, Miss Smoak?”

She bit her lip.s “Well, I have to admit, I was hoping for a different kind of lesson, Mister Queen.”

“Let me guess… does it involve any type of cutlery?”

She shook her head, her mouth pouting.

“Does it involve any type of food?”

“Mmmh…” she hummed, “depends what you mean by ‘food’.”

His eyes darkening, he felt his breathing quickening as he approached her close enough to count the freckles on her nose. I never noticed she had freckles.

“I think I like your kind of lessons better, Miss Smoak…” he whispered, his lips barely an inch away from hers.

Her eyes fluttered, visibly battling to stay open as she gripped the sides of her chair. “Oliver… I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“On the contrary, I think it’s probably the best idea I’ve ever had,” he murmured softly.

“Really? Because naming our new website GreenQueen makes it sound as if some kind of a Grinch drag-queen took over as CEO.”

Oliver shook his head, clearing his thoughts. They were both sitting at the conference room, several chairs between them, Chinese leftovers discarded on the table. Groaning, he rubbed his eyes, understanding he had been day-dreaming.

“Oliver, are you alright?” his assistant asked him, concerned. “I think we should call it a night. You almost fell asleep on me.”

The image her words brought up was so vivid and so clear that he had to bite back a moan, shifting uncomfortably on his chair, trying to hide what was happening south of his body.

He cleared his throat. “Yes. You’re right. Let me just… finish the duck.” He shook his head, horrified, remembering the small plastic duck that her mother had sent her. “No. Not the duck. Chicken. Chicken is safe.”

Felicity observed him warily. “We didn’t order duck anyway, you know…”

He blindly reached for the first box of food he could find, not even paying attention to what he was eating.

“Hum. Oliver. That’s the beef,” Felicity hesitantly interrupted him while gathering the papers that were all over the table.

Oliver briefly closed his eyes, chewing on the suddenly tasteless food. “That’s what I meant.”

He tried to focus on what he was eating, tried to keep his eyes off of her but she was everywhere and his eyes kept traveling back to her. Her ponytail was a mess, far away from the neat one she had had earlier that day. Her make-up was slightly smudged, lipstick completely gone. She was still bare foot, and the neat pink blouse she had been wearing earlier was now hanging loosely around her hips instead of being securely inside her waist-band. The sight of her nails, covered in a pale green nail polish, brought a smile to his lips and he couldn’t help his eyes traveling down to her feet. He cursed himself as soon as he had the answer to a question he’d been asking himself for a long time. Yep. It matches her toes.


After a few minutes of forcing his brain to stay as far away as possible from anything even slightly… stimulating, Oliver finally got control of himself enough to push back the empty box of food and stand up. He noticed Felicity had already cleared up the room and he could hear her mumbling in her office. Turning off the light, he quickly joined her, leaning on the doorway as he quietly observed her setting things straight on her own desk. It dawned on him, suddenly, how used he was to have her by his side. How normal it felt to wait for her at the end of a long day at work. How suddenly driving her home wasn’t just about a matter of safety and peace of mind, but also a way to delay the moment they would part ways.

“I’m all set,” she brightly said, interrupting his thoughts.

He smiled, his hand reaching for the lights, waiting for her to make it to the elevator. As he joined her inside the small space, she was trying to slip her panda flats on.

Chuckling, he helped her keep her balance by holding her elbow. “Why don’t you just put these on in the morning if you’re more comfortable wearing them?”

Felicity glared at him. “It’s not really appropriate. I’m the assistant of an executive, in case you forgot.”

He smiled. “It’s such a pity. I like them on you.”

“You’re only saying that because you bought them for me,” she teased him as they stepped out of the elevator, onto the garage level.

“What can I say? I have great taste.” He winked at her, opening the passenger door for her.

Buckling her seatbelt, Felicity let her hands caress the soft leather of her seat. “It’s been a while…”

“Mmmh?” Oliver asked as he slipped behind the wheel.

“I think I missed your car,” she laughed slightly.

“Lucky car,” he smirked as the motor roared to life. Handling the car swiftly, it only took them a minute to leave the building and speed through the night, the city almost completely asleep. It was already way past 10 and the streets were mostly empty.

“Why pandas?”

Oliver’s question seemed to catch her by surprise. “What?”

“Pandas. I noticed you had a small panda figurine on your secretary as well.”

“Oh,” she shrugged. “I’m not sure. I always loved them. They are the cuddliest animals I have ever seen, I guess. I used to have a panda plush when I was a kid.”

She frowned as if remembering an unpleasant memory. “My father gave it to me when I started kindergarten, actually.”

Oliver quickly glanced at her. “You never talk much about him…”

“No. There isn’t much to say, I guess. Classic story. He left when I was 7. I never heard from him ever again. Apart from that congratulations card he sent me when I graduated MIT. I still wonder how he found out about that.”

Sensing she wasn’t comfortable discussing that topic, Oliver quickly asked her, “I’ve always wanted to ask… were you really sixteen when you got into MIT?”

Felicity laughed, looking at him. “Are you implying I lied on my resume?”

“No. Of course not! And I know you’re more than capable to. I mean did you already know what you wanted to do? How did you manage to move halfway across the country?”

“I... I don’t know. I’ve always loved computers. All those wires, the possibilities,… it’s like a gigantic puzzle to me. A big mystery. They fascinate me. I had a full scholarship and I didn’t even hesitate when I got accepted. It’s only when I walked into my dorm room that I realized I was away from everything and everyone I ever knew and that I was two years younger than the other students.”

Oliver pulled the car onto her street a few buildings away from her apartment, then turned to face her. “That must have been hard.”

Felicity sighed. “Yes… and no. It surely helped me focus on my classes. I didn’t have that many friends to begin with and I had two part-time jobs. If I had been older, maybe I would have given into the constant partying during my spare time instead of studying. Like my boss probably did,” she teased him.

“Guilty.” Oliver raised his hands in defense, grinning.

“Where did you graduate?” she asked him seriously. “I don’t think I ever asked you.”

“Princeton. Like my parents.”

“The Queens go to Princeton. Obviously,” she giggled. “You think Thea is going to follow the same path?”

He frowned. “I don’t know. I hope not. If she wants to, that’s fine. But I’d like her to feel free to choose where she wants to go. I assume MIT was your choice?”

“Yep. Caltech was close second, though. But it was easy to choose.”

“You could have gotten in both?” he asked, surprised.

“Yes, I was offered scholarships for both. In the end, the prospect of having snowy winters won me over,” she smiled. “Boston is so pretty in the winter. All those old buildings, the narrow streets, the snow,…”

“Why… why did you want to leave, then? When you missed your interview, you know… the day we met? I’m sure you could have gotten a job in a company in Boston or New York.”

“Well. At first I wanted to stay at MIT. As a researcher, or a professor. It just didn’t turn out that way.”

He quietly observed her, the dim light coming from the street casting a shadow on her face.

“Do you regret it?” he finally asked.

She tilted her head, confused. “Regret what?”

“Coming to Starling. I mean you could be working anywhere you want to.”

“No. I don’t regret it. The thing is I hadn’t saved enough money to make several trips across the USA. I was really hoping I’d get this job at QC, because it’s a company I’ve been following closely in the past years. The job I got isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but… the boss is decent and the pay is nice,” she smiled cheekily at him.

“Ugh. Decent?” he grimaced, pretending to be hurt by her words.

She laughed at the offense in his tone. “Well. Consider yourself lucky. I could have said worse. Although, I have to admit you have dramatically improved over the last couple of months.”

“I’ve had help,” he smiled peacefully at her. “I was such an ass with you at first. I never really… apologized for that. I’m sorry.”

Felicity looked at him thoughtfully. “You kinda were. But it really didn’t last long. You’ve made up for it, anyway.”

Oliver raised his eyebrows. “Really?”

She smiled reassuringly at him, putting a hand on his arm. “Really. That poem was heartwarming.”

He pinched his lips, wincing at the memory. “Could we please never mention it… again?”

“We could,” she nodded, “but no. No way I’m letting this go. When am I getting the original of it, signed by the authors?”

“Never. Not to mention it’s on the back of a nude poster.”

She burst out laughing. “what?!”

“We were in a club, I didn’t exactly bring a notepad with me.”

Felicity grinned widely at his discomfort. “You know, I think you should stop drinking tequila. It’s obviously not for you.”

He smiled shyly at her. “but we had a good time, didn’t we? In Ivy Town, I mean.”

Nodding, she whispered, “Yes. Yes, we did.”

Having no idea how it happened, he suddenly realized how close they were to each other. Both had moved to the edge of their seat at some point and his hand reached for her ear without him realizing it, gently caressing the barbell piercing. For a split second, her eyes closed as she leaned into his touch and despite a little voice in the back of his head screaming that this was a bad idea, he found himself closing the gap between them even more, his eyes fixed on hers as he saw them darkening and mirroring the longing he had been feeling for a while now. His breathing quickened as she licked her lips, her teeth lingering in a gentle bite, the small pinch of it causing them to turn a deeper shade of red. As he let his hand drop from her ear down to the tender skin between her neck and shoulder, she visibly gulped, letting him feel her pulse speeding up, no doubt matching his own. At this moment there was nothing he wanted more than to close the gap separating them, to feel the relief and comfort her mouth could bring him, to finally find out for sure if what he suspected was true. But it was not the right time, and it was not the right place and he wanted to give her so much more than what he could offer right now.

“Felicity.” The whisper on his mouth was as light as a feather but he knew she heard him, he knew she heard the words he did not say out loud, like she always did because she always saw right through him.

“I should go,” she smiled, her eyes soft and understanding.

“I’ll walk you,” he offered, already opening his door.

“There’s no need, really,” she answered softly as she climbed out of the car as wel.l “It’s barely a few buildings away.”

As he locked the car, he put a hand on the small of her back, feeling the heat of her skin warm his fingers, causing them to twitch with the need for more.

Oliver shook his head. “I insist. I don’t think I’d ever forgive myself if something was to happen to you.”

“You’re only saying that because then you’d have to find another assistant and you hate going through resumes,” she teased him, lightly nudging him.

“Hey! I think I did a great job hiring the last one!” he huffed out a laugh as they climbed up the few steps leading to her building entrance.

“Please. I wouldn’t consider bumping into a girl as a hiring process,” she dryly said, rolling her eyes.

“Of all the girls I could have bumped into, I think I chose the perfect one,” he smiled as he leaned against the door while she looked for her keys inside her bag.

She stopped, glaring at him. “Next time, just make sure she doesn’t drop half of her belongings on the floor, will you?”

“Hey!” he held out his hands in defense. “I helped you pick them up!”

“Please. You picked up a pen,” she snorted but was unable to hide her amusement.

“… It was red.” He smiled softly, his eyes bright and tender as he remembered the scene like it was yesterday.

Felicity’s lips parted with surprise. “Yes. Yes, it was.”

He honestly had no idea how long they stayed on the threshold of her door, smiling at each other as they remembered how they had met several months ago and how their lives had changed ever since that day.

“Are you two going to gaze at each other for the rest of the night or will I be able to walk through that door and get to bed at a decent hour?”

Dig’s sarcastic voice reached them as they both jumped and turn to look at him, both feeling like they'd been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. He rolled his eyes at them as he took the few steps two at a time, already reaching for the door as the two of them stepped out of his way.

“We weren’t…”

“I wasn’t…”

Felicity and Oliver started at the same time, the same guilty blush growing on their cheeks as Dig passed by them, shaking his head. He was just about to close the door behind him, when he peeked at Felicity, “Will you still need a ride to work tomorrow morning?”

Felicity gaped, the slight blush on her cheeks invading her neck. “What, wow, yes, of course, I mean he’s not staying or…”

Dig sighed, closing his eyes. “I didn’t mean it like that. Since you worked late, do you still have to be at work as early as usual?”

“Oh,” Felicity stuttered, “Oh. Of… of course. Late night. Yeah.”

“No,” Oliver finally came to her rescue. “I don’t think so. We’re quite ahead of schedule so she can take the morning off.”

“Good,” Dig nodded as he closed the door. “I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”

Groaning, Felicity hid her face behind her hands. “I’m so sorry, I… that was so inappropriate.”

Chuckling, Oliver lowered her hands. “It wouldn’t really be you if you didn’t drop an inappropriate comment every now and then.” He took a deep breath, adding, “I should get going.”

She smiled understandingly. “Your mother needs you. It’s a hard blow. I mean your husband having an affair is one thing, then learning he fathered another child, only to find out mother of said child wants to get her hands on his company… that’s a lot to take in.”

He laughed dryly. “I just don’t think I’m that great at being the supportive son.”

“I think you’re doing a great job so far. Don’t be so hard on yourself,” she said as she took a small step towards him, reaching on her toes to plant a soft kiss on his cheek. The gesture caught him off guard and he barely noticed when she opened the door and told him goodnight.

Standing on the threshold, he watched her silhouette through the thick glass window of the door she had just closed. A small smile tugged at his lips as he realized this was the first time she had allowed such an intimate gesture. Of course, the kiss was more than innocent, more like a peck really, and his old self would probably be rolling his eyes at him right now if he could see him. At what point exactly did he turn into a man perfectly content to be kissed goodnight so innocently?

Shoving his hands in his pockets, he quickly walked back to his car, whistling, suddenly feeling much lighter and carefree. The drive back home was short, too short for a man who was trying to sort his own thoughts – and feelings. Yet, for the first time in what seemed like forever, there was a bounce in his steps as he stepped out of his car and made his way to the main foyer. He directly went to the kitchen, intending to grab a bottle of water and head straight to bed. He had just opened the fridge when a voice behind him startled him.

“Great minds think alike, I see.”

“Mom. You scared the hell out of me,” Oliver groaned as he picked up the bottle he had dropped on the floor.

Moira laughed slightly as she stood up from the kitchen table. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t exactly trying to scare you. You just walked past me and didn’t even see me.”

“Sorry. It’s been a long day,” he apologized, taking a long sip of water.

“Don’t apologize. I’m more curious as to what put that smile on your face,” she gently teased him as she poured herself a glass of apple juice.

“What smile?” he frowned, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.

“The one you had when you walked in this room. I don’t know what… or who caused it but I’d really like to see that smile on your face more often. It’s been a while since I last saw my son happy.”

Oliver cleared his throat. “It’s… it’s not what you think.”

Moira smiled knowingly as she took a sip of her drink. “If you say so.”

They both drank in silence for a few minutes, both comforted by the other without needing any words. Ever since Robert’s death, they had gotten closer and the talk they had had about Oliver’s short-lived engagement had brought a new understanding in their relationship.

Eventually, Moira put her glass down in the sink and took a deep breath. “Oliver. I spoke with David, our attorney. Isabel already made a move to get a part of your father’s inheritance. Nothing to be surprised about, we saw that coming ever since we heard of that pregnancy.”

Leaning on the counter, Oliver crossed his arms. “I knew she would try to do something like that. What kind of legal ground does she have exactly?”

“Well, you know the law… if she can prove the child is his, as soon as he or she is born, they will be legally considered as potential heir. Which means Isabel could be her child’s legal representative…”

“Which means she’s going to be around for a while,” he groaned, bowing his head.

“Yes. David is hopeful, though. Judging the circumstances and how Robert didn’t want that child, maybe she will be denied. And if she’s not… we can still try to make a deal with her.”

“You mean a financial deal? You would compromise with her?” Oliver asked in surprise.

“Yes.” Moira looked at him, her eyes assured and confident. “If that means getting her out of our lives… Yes. There are a few number of things that I won’t do to make sure this woman is as far away from my family as possible. I should have done that much earlier. Maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess if I had.”

Chapter Text

"Only When I Sleep"

 

 

You're only just a dreamboat
Sailing in my head
You swim my secret oceans
Of coral blue and red
Your smell is incense burning
Your touch is silken yet
It reaches through my skin
And moving from within
It clutches at my breast

But it's only when I sleep
See you in my dreams
You got me spinning round and round
Turning upside-down
But I only hear you breathe

Somewhere in my sleep
Got me spinning round and round
Turning upside-down
But its only when I sleep

And when I wake from slumber
Your shadow's disappear
Your breath is just a sea mist
Surrounding my body
I'm workin' through the daytime
But when it's time to rest
I'm lying in my bed
Listening to my breath
Falling from the edge

But it's only when I sleep
See you in my dreams, (dreams)
You got me spinning round and round
Turning upside-down
But I only hear you breathe
Somewhere in my sleep, (in my sleep)
Got me spinning round and round
Turning upside-down
But its only when I sleep
It's only when I sleep

Up to the sky
Where angels fly
I'll never die
Hawaiian High
In bed I lie
No need to cry
My sleeping cry
Hawaiian High

It's reaching through my skin
Movin' from within
And clutches at my breasts...

But it's only when I sleep...
See you in my dreams, (dreams)
You got me spinning round and round
Turning upside-down
But I only hear you breathe

In bed I lie
No need to cry
My sleeping cry
Hawaiian High

But it's only when I sleep... aaaaaaa....
Got me spinning round and round
(Turning upside-down)

Up to the sky
Where angels fly
I'll never die
Hawaiian High
But it's only when I sleep...

 

 

Felicity closed the door of her apartment, feeling more breathless than the single flight of stairs could justify. Resting her back against it, she closed her eyes, trying to calm the beating of her heart. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing happened. We talked, he walked me to my door and nothing happened.

Then why was her heart beating so fast, her breathing short and heavy? Something was shifting between them, she had been aware of that for a while. But tonight, for the first time, she had realized that it wasn’t one-sided. Oliver felt something too. She didn’t know if she should feel relieved that her mind hadn’t been playing tricks on her or freaked out because trying to ignore and muffle an unrequired love was one thing… but a mutual attraction was something else. It was so wrong, on so many levels. As she finally decided to move away from the door, dropping her purse and carelessly throwing her jacket on the couch, she mentally listed all the reasons why this was a very, very bad idea. 

  1. He’s your boss.
  2. He’s a friend. One of the only friends you have here.
  3. He’s Oliver freaking Queen, heir of a wealthy family and you’re just an IT girl from Vegas.
  4. He just got out of a long term relationship. Hell, he just got out of an engagement. Thanks to you, actually.
  5. His life is the definition of messy at the moment.

 

As she was lying in bed, some thirty minutes later, her mind was still reeling with the memories of the night. The way he had whispered her name, his eyes showing her his longing, his desire, but also his hesitation and his fear to destroy their relationship. If she was honest with herself, she was sharing the same fears, the same doubts. She was falling for the wrong person, at the wrong time. So why oh why did everything feel so right whenever she was near him? Why did she feel stronger, more confident, more of a woman than she had ever felt? What exactly was it in him that brought up that side of her, the one that was daring and bold? At first, she had thought it was his own confidence, born from the privileged life he led. But now she knew the man, she knew the doubts and lack of self-esteem. She knew the man under the suit, the one with flaws and insecurities. The less than perfect son, the still learning businessman. The loyal friend. The caring boss. The more layers of Oliver she had discovered, the more she had been drawn to him. The coveted bachelor, wealthy playboy she had met had done very little to cause an impression on her. But that person was long gone and the man she had been discovering day by day was more than worthy of love.

Love. She bit her lips, her eyes staring at the ceiling above her. She shook her head at the choice of word. Whatever was going on between them… it couldn’t be love. They were too different, for a start. Lust, desire, affection, tenderness… yes. But love? That was a big word, one she hadn’t dared to use in over a year. One that had only led her to make poor decisions. One that had almost ruined her life. She wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. 

Turning over, she closed her eyes, willing herself to keep her feelings at bay. And if a little voice told her that it might be too late for that, she stubbornly decided to ignore it.

 

 

1 week later

 

“Oliver! I told you, repeatedly, that if the printer doesn’t work, it’s probably because you forgot to load paper. Hitting on the button over and over again isn’t going to make paper appear magically!” Felicity yelled at him from the small archive room. 

“There is paper!” he shouted back from her office where he was frustratingly pacing, having been kicked out of said room a few minutes earlier by his more than pissed off assistant. 

“No. There. Isn’t.” 

“I put some back yesterday, exactly like you told me!” 

“Then we must have used it all!” 

“How can we use an entire rack of paper in less than 24 hours?!” he asked in disbelief. “Although, knowing you, you probably printed the full instructions of every single electronic device we own in this building,” he added, snorting. 

He barely had the time to worry at the silence that answered him before Felicity appeared on the threshold, her eyes dark and furious. 

“Excuse me?” she asked, her voice low and cold as ice. 

“Come on, you printed the plans for three different wind turbines last week,” he dismissively explained, ruffling his hair.

“Only because my dimwit of a boss wasn’t able to recognize one from another.” 

Oliver gasped. “What did you call me?!” 

“Dimwit. D-I-M…” 

“I know how to spell it!” 

“Good. So now maybe we can focus on how to properly load paper in the printer because this,” she waved a crumpled sheet in front of his eyes, “was stuck inside of it.”

Oliver frowned, staring at the offending piece of paper. “I swear I did everything like you told me to, Felicity.” 

She glared at him. 

“I did!” he raised his hands in defense. “That thing only answers to you anyway.” 

Felicity tilted her head, then turned around and went back to the small room. She reappeared a few seconds later with a small pile of papers.

Handing it to Oliver, she sarcastically said, “are you sure you’re gonna be able to work the stapler?” 

“Depends if it’s for binding those papers or try to assault someone,” he smirked. 

Narrowing her eyes, she walked past him, heading to his own office and dropping the stack of documents on his desk. She quickly divided the papers in two neat piles and stapled them, not paying attention to him.

“Alright. So you’ve got one for you and another one for Mrs Anderson.” She glanced at the clock, pinching her lips. “You’re supposed to meet her at Walter’s office in 15 minutes.” 

Oliver picked up the documents, quickly checking to see that everything was in order. Felicity moved to face him, nudging his arm away as she straightened his tie. 

Still reading, his arm outstretched to let her work her magic, he asked absent-mindedly, “My mother is supposed to stop by Walter’s office later. Do you mind waiting for me? I should be done before 6.” 

Smoothing the few wrinkles on the silky material, Felicity nodded. “No problem. There you go. Looking all dapper.” 

He smiled at her. “what would I do without you?” 

Raising an eyebrow, she snickered, “probably murder that poor innocent printer for starts." 

“For the last time… I did everything like you told me to!” Oliver exclaimed, putting the papers back on his desk and grabbing his jacket. 

Felicity rolled her eyes, her hands on her hips. “Like for the fax machine?” 

Pinching his lips, he pointed a finger at her. “That was different. That thing hates me!” 

“If I didn’t know you any better, I’d say you’re purposely harming those poor things!” 

“What?! This is ridiculous!” Oliver protested. 

Glaring at him, Felicity held out her hand, counting on her fingers. “The printer – twice- even though I already showed you how to reload paper; the fax machine that you somehow forgot to plug in; that laptop…” 

Oliver cut her off. “That was different, spilling a drink on something can happen to anyone!” 

“Oliver, the screen was barely holding on.” 

“… Tommy spilled a drink then let it fall on the floor,” he mumbled sheepishly. 

“So it was Tommy! I knew it! You don’t drink pineapple juice!” She fist-pumped in triumph. 

“Of course I drink pineapple juice!” 

“No, you don’t!” 

“Yes, I do!” 

“OK. When was the last time you had some?” 

Oliver opened his mouth, trying to remember. Closing it, he stubbornly crossed his arms. “I don’t actually remember but that doesn’t mean…” 

“Yes it does! I had pineapple for breakfast last week and you told me, I quote ‘there is something fishy about a fruit named after another fruit even though they have nothing in common whatsoever.’” 

“I… might have said that but… it was just so… It was the morning, OK?” he huffed. 

She narrowed her eyes as she took a step closer, lowering her voice. “Now, I’d really like to know why I ended up fixing your best friend’s laptop and even more important, why you wanted to hide it was his.”

He held her glare, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Because I know you’re really good with computers.” 

She snorted. “Please. As if he couldn’t get anyone from Merlyn Global to help him. Why did he even ask you?” 

“Because there was no one else I could have trusted with my hidden porn, that’s why.” Tommy’s lazy voice reached them. Both turned around, seeing him leaning on the doorframe, one of his trademark smirks firmly on his face. “And absolutely not because my best friend destroyed my laptop on purpose so he could ask his charming assistant to fix it because she might have mentioned once, and I quote, ‘that she missed playing with computers and techy things’… obviously.” 

Felicity slowly turned her head, facing her boss who was furiously glaring at his best friend. “… for real?” 

“That’s… not exactly how it happened,” Oliver explained, trying to placate her but she cut him off right away. 

“You hurt those very nice pieces of technology on purpose? Just so I could fix them?” Felicity asked, disbelief obvious in her voice.

“… No?” he asked hesitantly, not sure if she was mad or touched by the gesture. Seeing her taking a deep breath and exhaling slowly made him understand it was the former. “It was his idea!” he rushed to say, pointing at his best friend. “And we didn’t hurt them that bad, the laptop was really an accident… at first.” 

Tommy approached them, fake-whispering. “Dude… I think you’re making it worse.” 

Felicity swapped her head from one man to the other. “I can’t believe it. How old are you exactly?” 

“He’s 26, but I’d really like to point out I’m still only 25. Which is also the reason for my…” 

She cut him off with a furious glare. “Don’t even try to charm your way out of this, Merlyn.” 

Tommy grinned widely, ignoring her anger. “You finally dropped the Mister!” Turning to Oliver, he added, "we're making progress. We’re making great progress." 

Felicity groaned in frustration as she picked up the papers once more, shoving them in Oliver’s arms. “You go to that meeting. And you,” she added to Tommy , her voice low and threatening, “better never drink pineapple juice next to your laptop. Ever. Again.”

With one last furious look, she turned around, storming out of Oliver’s office under their stare. 

“How you even manage to get any work done is beyond me, honestly.” Tommy’s dreamy voice distracted Oliver from the enchanting vision of Felicity walking away from them, her tight grey dress fitting all of her curves in the most perfect way, the yellow squares on her waist capturing his attention. 

“What?” Oliver asked confusedly then realized where his best friend’s eyes were resting. “Stop it.” 

“I’m just a man! And I’ve told you before… it’s… it’s a piece of art. That dress is devilish, though. How do you even focus on… well, anything?” 

“I used my pen to stir my coffee this morning. Does that answer your question?” Oliver deadpanned, his eyes never leaving Felicity’s retreating form. 

“Damn, that loud voice of her is… hot as hell.” 

“I know. I know,” Oliver answered miserably, his head bowing.

“Anyway, I was here to remind you of my birthday party. It’s next Saturday, don’t forget. Same theme as usual.” 

Oliver shook his head. “really? You’ve been having the same theme ever since you were 8!” 

“And I will go with it until my very last birthday party,” Tommy answered as they both started to walk out of Oliver’s office. 

“I could understand when we were kids, but now? What’s the point?” 

“Mistletoe. That’s the point. Mistletoe.” 

“How old are you, again?” Oliver asked, smiling at his best friend’s childish behavior. 

“Old enough to know that if I like a girl, I ask her out, not destroy my best friend’s laptop to get her attention…” Tommy whispered discreetly as they walked past Felicity’s desk who was pointedly ignoring them. Clearing his throat, he fished out a small envelope from his suit. “Miss Felicity?” 

Taking a deep breath, Felicity raised her head. “Yes?” 

Not letting her cold tone deter him, he charmingly smiled at her, handing the invitation. “My birthday party. I won’t take no for an answer.” 

She raised her eyebrows at him, opening the card. “Christmas in July?” she asked, surprised. “I would have pictured you as a James Bond theme kind of guy…” 

He narrowed his eyes. “I thought we had agreed to not mention that unfortunate incident… ever again?” 

“Oh no. I didn’t agree. I might have humored you, but believe me… there is no way in hell I’m going to let this one go until I have my payback,” she answered sweetly with an innocent smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Coughing, Oliver interrupted them. “Sorry, but I have to go. Tommy? If you want Walter to give you these papers, you should come with me.” 

“What pap… Oh yeah… those papers,” Tommy nodded knowingly, barely hiding his smirk. “Well, Miss Felicity, I look forward to seeing you there. Hopefully, under the mistletoe?” 

Felicity pinched her lips, her mouth twitching as if she was battling a smile. “I’ll come. But don’t get your hopes too high for that mistletoe. I’m very good at avoiding it.” 

“I like a challenge,” Tommy winked at her as he followed Oliver to the elevator. 

Once they were inside, Tommy turned to Oliver. “OK, where can I get mistletoe in July?” 

Oliver frowned. “Probably where you usually get it every year?” 

“I always keep a few from December, but I’m going to need much, much more. Miss Felicity is a sneaky little one,” Tommy explained as they stepped out onto the top floor. 

Locking his jaw, Oliver shook his head. “Tommy… Don’t.” 

“I’m not doing anything! It’s the tradition, surely she won’t object that!” Looking around him, Tommy finally noticed where they were. "And by the way, is there any good reason why you dragged me along to that meeting with Walter?" 

Oliver had the decency to look sheepish. 

"... are you jealous?" Tommy asked suspiciously, his doubts probably confirmed when his best friend pointedly avoided his eye.s "Oh my... Oliver Queen, jealous? That is something I thought I'd never see. I wasn't going to ask her out on a date, you know." 

Oliver groaned. "I'm not jealous, I just didn't want... she had work and you're distracting." 

"Excuse me? I am distracting? You guys were fighting over pineapple juice, like an old-married couple by the way, but of course I would distract her from work!” Tommy snorted, rolling his eyes as they finally reached the door leading to Walter’s office. “Anyway… good luck at the board meeting… it’s the day after tomorrow, right?” 

“Yes,” Oliver nodded shortly. 

“Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Tommy vigorously clapped his best friend’s back, already distractingly glancing at a group of young women having coffee nearby. “In the meantime, I’m going to ask these charming ladies what they are doing next Saturday night…” 

“Really? How many girls have you invited yet?” Oliver chuckled. 

“Not enough, Ollie… Not enough!” 

Oliver raised his eyes, amused by his friend’s attics, then proceeded to walk to Walter’s office to discuss their new marketing campaign. Their legal department and the board members had managed to put up another vote, with the shareholders this time. Most of them had already cast their votes and Moira was supposed to stop by later so the three of them could talk about it. He had a bad feeling about it, but had done his best to push those thoughts back and focus on what he could do for QC. He was also very aware there was little they could do, except wait until the day after tomorrow to get the final results. The one good thing that had come out of this mess was his mother, who had been taking charge again instead of staying at home most of the day. He had seen a new side of her, vindictive and strong-minded and his only hope was that, whatever the outcome was, the new Moira Queen was here to stay.

 

**

 

The small presentation with Mrs Anderson, of their new advertising agency had gone much faster than expected. Felicity’s notes were concise and clear, as usual, and she had promised to get back to them within the month with the first draft for their new campaign. 

Moira arrived shortly after the appointment was over, and as he had feared, the news was not good. His mind was still reeling with every bit of information he had learned over the past hour as he took the stairs to get back to his own office, cursing under his breath when he realized it was later than he thought. 

Swiftly walking the steps two at a time, he made it back to his own floor in record time. 

“I’m sorry, Felicity, this was longer than…” he stopped mid-sentence when he realized his assistant wasn’t at her desk. Frowning, he stepped forward, quickly glancing in the archive room. Seeing the room was just as empty, he was already fishing in his jacket to get his cellphone when he saw her sitting in the middle of his own office, surrounded by papers. 

Intrigued, he softly knocked on the glass wall, trying to get her attention without scaring her off. 

She raised her head, her hand reaching for the pen she was currently chewing on, her eyes big and wary. “Oh, Oliver. Good. You’re here.”

Smiling, he cautiously approached her, trying to avoid all the documents that were literally scattered on the floor. “Do I even want to know what this is all about?” 

Felicity groaned, leaning her head from one side to the other to stretch her neck. “Mandy stopped by to give you a few documents. They’re on your desk, no need to hurry, though. You just have to sign them. Anyway, she might have mentioned rumors about Isabel being in the lead and…" She sighed “I’m trying to find something. Anything. So I’ve looked up her contract, Walter’s contract, which I know is pointless because if there was something we could legally do, we have a more than capable department that can take care of that but I just have this nagging feeling that…” 

“Felicity. Breathe.” Oliver kneeled down next to her. “Those rumors are true, by the way. Did Mandy behave?” 

She glared at him. “Really? You’re confirming that in two days we might end up with Isabel as our boss and the thing you’re worried about is if Mandy was her usual bitchy self?” 

“First of all, I don’t think there is anything we can do about Isabel. And I know Mandy isn’t exactly your greatest fan…” he trailed off, wincing. 

“That might be the understatement of the year,” she snorted. “but she actually did behave. I think she was already celebrating. You know how she close she is to Isabel’s assistant so she has no reason to worry about her future in this company. Unlike others. Like myself.”

He frowned. “Felicity… even if she ends up CEO, I’m not going to let her do anything against you, you know that, right?” 

Felicity sighed, her shoulders slumping. “I know that. Rationally, I do know that. But it still makes me nervous.” 

Trying to cheer her up, he nudged her shoulder. “Come on. It’s our first Big Belly Burger night. Don’t let her ruin that.” 

Standing up, he held out his hand, helping her to get back on her feet. Together, they quickly picked up the documents off the floor, Felicity holding them in her arms protectively. 

It was only when he saw the word 'confidential' on one of them that he paused. “Wait… how did you even get those?” 

Felicity blushed, biting her lower lip. 

Oliver tilted his head at her. “Again?” 

Felicity nodded lightly, looking only mildly embarrassed. 

He sighed, shaking his head. “We are really gonna have to work on that habit of yours of hacking into everything and anything whenever you are bored.” 

Smiling, she grabbed him by the tie. “Or we could talk about that habit of yours of destroying perfectly good technology?” 

Oliver grinned, but didn’t have time to reply as he heard the familiar ping of the elevator announcing a newcomer. The two of them took a step backwards, Felicity letting his tie fall from her hand. 

“I guess Dig is done, too,” she said as she made her way to her own office, ready to greet their friend. 

He watched her retreat, the longing feeling in his chest growing stronger and stronger. It was getting hard for him to keep his emotions at bay where she was concerned. At first he thought it was lust, but the more time he spent with her, the more he understood he was craving something more than sex. He wanted intimacy, tenderness. He wanted her smiles and her laughter, breakfast in bed, his fingers gently stroking the tender skin of her neck, his hand playing with her hair. He was fighting himself more and more each day, his own body acting almost on reflex when she was around him. He knew she felt something similar, but he also knew that this wasn’t the right time. She was his assistant and the last thing he wanted was to put her in the position of all his former assistants: the girl who slept with her boss. The world was cruel for working women: they were always the ones taking the blame and facing the consequences. With Isabel possibly becoming the new CEO, getting involved with Felicity would only put a giant target on her back, not to mention taint her reputation. People would disregard her achievements, her abilities and only see how she was the last one of a very long list. Pushing the depressing thoughts in the back of his mind, he turned off the light in his office, joining his friends.

 

**

 

“So… from what they know, Isabel has a majority of votes?” Dig asked as soon as they were all seated in their usual booth. They sometimes came there for lunch, but having missed it this week, they had decided to come for dinner instead. 

“Yep,” Oliver answered, distractingly looking through the menu. 

“And there's nothing we can do about that?” 

“I’m sure there is something to do. It’s there, we just don’t know where to look,” Felicity said, her fist landing on the table with a big thump. 

Oliver turned his head, raising an eyebrow. They were both sitting next to each other, facing Dig on the other side of the booth. 

“I don’t get how you can stay so calm about it!” Felicity exclaimed, furiously closing the menu and putting it back on the table. 

“Because I know when the fight is over, Felicity,” Oliver explained calmly, sharing a look with Dig. “And also because I might have other things that need my attention?” 

Dig and Felicity didn’t have time to ask more about his cryptic line as a waitress arrived to take their order. Felicity waited as patiently as possible until the young woman left them alone to fire the first question. 

“What other things?” 

Oliver sighed. “Isabel is asking for a third of my father’s inheritance.” 

Dig let out a low whistle. "She’s not wasting any time, is she?" 

Felicity gasped. “But he didn’t even want that child? How can she be using it to get money from him when he didn’t even… How? I mean she got the job and now she wants the money as well?” 

Oliver nodded. “Apparently. And our attorney is not the most optimistic about it. When the child is born, it is officially an heir according to the law. If DNA proves it, obviously.” 

“So that won’t be addressed until what… 5 months?” Dig asked, frowning. 

“Probably. My mother tried to get a deal, but Isabel would rather go to court. She has way too much to gain, she could be the legal representative of her child and…” 

“Therefore get even more weight at QC,” Felicity finished for him. “God, whatever we do, it looks like she’s always one step ahead.” 

“At least, her being CEO could eventually change, if the board decides to. But if her child is recognized as a legal heir…” Dig trailed off. 

“She is going to get access to a third of my father’s shares at QC, plus a third of his wealth,” Oliver explained, playing with the straw of his glass of water. “David, our attorney, says there won’t be any decision until the birth.” 

“It also freezes your inheritance, doesn’t it?” Felicity asked. “As well as Thea’s obviously.” 

“Yes. I don’t really mind about that, though,” Oliver shrugged. “It’s more what’s gonna happen once it’s born that concerns me.” 

Felicity grabbed a few tortilla chips that the waitress had brought as appetizers, munching on them and not paying much attention to what Dig and Oliver were talking about. Her mind was reeling, and knowing the clock was ticking wasn’t helping. 

Taking a deep breath, she interrupted them in the middle of what seemed to be predictions for football season. “So… let me get this straight. There is nothing in your father’s will that could prevent her from claiming a third of his wealth, am I right?” 

Oliver sighed, a small smile playing on his lips. “No. The attorneys already checked that.” 

“And there is also nothing in her contract, or Walter’s contract or anything QC related to stop her either from becoming CEO or getting shares?” 

“Doesn’t seem like it,” he confirmed once more. “Which drives my mother crazy, knowing this family company will be even more divided than it already is. Having shareholders is one thing, having your late husband’s mistress being almost equal to you is another one.” 

Felicity groaned. “Oh God, I didn’t even think of that. It must be awful for your mother. Didn’t she help your father start the company?” 

“Yeah… she did. Well it was mostly the Dearden’s money, but I think my grandfather made sure it was legally hers when he passed away.” 

“When did he die?” Dig chimed in between a few mouthfuls of chips.

“Fifteen years ago. He lost my grandmother the year prior and never got over her death.” 

Felicity was so distracted with her thoughts that she didn’t even notice the waitress arriving with their food until Oliver gently nudged her leg with his own, trying to get her attention. 

“Mmhh?” she mumbled, her eyes still unfocused. 

“Food,” Oliver mouthed, his eyes twinkling.

 

They ate mostly in silence, Felicity’s usual babbling being much quieter than usual. She would pause and ask Oliver a random question every now and then, her eyebrows frowning as if she was trying to solve a particularly difficult problem. 

She had just finished her burger and was distractedly eating Oliver’s fries when she suddenly paused, a fry in mid-air between her and Oliver. He turned his head, intrigued, but didn’t have time to ask her what was wrong. 

“Wait. So your grandfather founded the company with your father? Is that right? And by grandfather, I mean on your mother’s side,” she asked. 

“Yes. I mean it was my paternal grand-father who started it all. But it was very small, then my dad came around and took over, making it much bigger with the help of my mother’s father,” he explained once more, wondering where this was all heading to. 

“Oh. OK.” She shoved the fry into her mouth, not adding anything. 

Dig and Oliver shared a confused look but decided not to push it, already knowing her well enough to know it was probably best to let her sort whatever was going through her head. 

They didn’t stay at the restaurant any longer than necessary, Felicity even insisting on getting a milk-shake to go so she could head home sooner. 

“I’m tired. You’re tired. We’re all tired and we’re going to have some tough days ahead so we should go to bed. Separately, I mean. Cause that… that would be really awkward. Not that it never happened before. It did. Not with Dig, though.” 

Dig looked at them, surprised. “I didn’t know about that?” 

“It’s nothing. I mean nothing happened, we had to share a bed because that’s all that was left because of the corndog festival.” Felicity waved off dismissively while Oliver helped her put her coat on. 

“Do I even want to know about that festival?” Dig smirked while Oliver shook his head. 

“You already know way too much, anyway.” 

 

 

Once Felicity was finally home, she wasted no time. Quickly firing up her laptop, she knew exactly what to look for. The big question was still where to find the information, but she was hopeful she would get enough of a trail to lead her to her target. 

The fact that Moira’s father had made sure his shares would get back to his only daughter had sparked a bit of hope in her. If he had been that careful about his will, maybe he had been just as careful with his investment to begin with. Since he was one of the original founders of the company, who knew if there wasn’t a way to use that to their advantage? 

Finding out who was Mr James Dearden’s original attorney was much easier than she thought. Retracing who had been in charge of his paperwork was a bit more complicated but nothing she couldn’t do.

As she was waiting for her searches to conclude, she laid down more comfortably on the sofa, deciding that resting her eyes for a minute wouldn’t hurt, especially since it was way past midnight. 

“Just a few minutes” was her last conscious thought as she drifted asleep.

 

**

 

As she rushed out of the elevator, disheveled as she had barely taken the time to get ready when she saw how late it was, she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Oliver leaning on her desk, his arms crossed and a deep frown on his face. 

“Felicity. It’s almost noon,” he sternly said. 

“I know. I know! I’m so sorry, I stayed up late and forgot to…” she trailed off as her eyes travelled down his arms. He was wearing a crisp white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, her own personal kryptonite. 

“You forgot to…?” 

“To… I forgot to set the…” she stuttered when she saw him ruffling his hair, sighing impatiently. 

He straightened up from his position, slowly walking towards her. 

“Miss Smoak… I thought we had an agreement about late arrivals. If I am late, you get a free pass at yelling at me… if you are late, on the other hand…” he murmured as he shoved his hands in his pockets. 

“I’m sorry, Oliver. I have found some things though, and I think they could be useful for… Isabel. And QC,” she breathlessly said, her eyes captured by the way he was looking at her. 

“But a deal is a deal, Miss Smoak. You know the price to pay, don’t you?” he whispered, making her heart beat so fast she was positive it was about to hammer its way out of her chest. 

“I have to bring you coffee for the rest of the week?” she squeaked, trying not to think about how close he was. 

Oliver smiled softly at her. “Coffee won’t cut it. Not this time.” 

She gulped loudly, her eyes fluttering as he leaned in to whisper in her ear. “Go to my office. Bend over my desk. And wait for me.” 

Oh God, yes, please. Yes.

 

 

She suddenly woke with a gasp, reaching for her glasses, putting them back on her face with a trembling hand. Taking deep gulps of air, she tried to calm down the beating of her heart, very vivid images of her dream playing in front of her eyes.

Groaning, she hid her face between her hands, mortified at her own dream, desperately trying to get rid of the heat that had taken over her body. 

Good thing I have a few hours before I have to face him at work.

 

**

 

Oliver didn’t really know what to expect that following morning. He had noticed Felicity’s strange behavior at the restaurant, but he knew she was desperately trying to come up with a solution for him. She was more closed-off than usual and it was ticking his over-protectiveness. He knew she was stressing herself out more than usual, and that she was doing it for him. 

But that didn’t mean he was comfortable with the distance between them. Not at all. 

As he was sitting at his desk, supposed to go through yet another report but unable to focus on anything but her - something that was happening more and more these days, no matter how good he was at hiding it -, he let his eyes travel to her. She was rummaging through some files in one of her file cabinets and offering him the most perfect view on her behind. The grey dress she was wearing was tight-fitting and showcased every curve, with a dark circle around the waist and orange rectangles on the side that were begging for his hands. Gulping, his eyes travelled down her devilish legs. Long, toned, they looked so smooth and silky that he knew it was just a matter of time until he would cave in and run his hand along the tender skin, first grazing the delicate ankle and slowly make its way on her calf and thigh, only to disappear underneath the fabric of her dress.

He was so focused on all the things he so desperately wanted to do to her that he didn’t even notice her turning around. The look on his face must have given him away though because the next thing he knew, she was walking towards his office, her steps strong and decided. She distractedly threw whatever file she was holding on the sofa, her eyes never leaving his as she made her way to his desk. 

“Felicity…” he said as he stood up, his hands raised in apology for what was obviously a very inappropriate behavior. 

“Don’t even think about it,” she said coldly. “This is not… it’s not what I signed up for, Oliver. I’m not like all of your other assistants.” 

“I know. God I know that, Felicity. I’m sorry. And I know it’s no excuse but that dress is… those squares they… I mean they… I want to…” he stuttered, feeling the beginning of a blush growing on his cheeks. 

“Are you blaming your behavior on the way I dress?” she asked, her tone low and menacing. 

“No! No! Of course not!” he tried to defend himself but he kept being distracted by the fire in her eyes and the way she licked her lips. “That dress isn’t responsible.” 

“So that dress does nothing to you?” 

“No… nothing…” he mumbled, fully aware how unconvincing he sounded, especially as he couldn’t help but stare at those God damn rectangles on her hips once more. 

It was suddenly as if his own body wasn’t responding to him as he saw his hands acting on their own and reaching for her waist, despite what his brain was screaming at them. Felicity froze as she felt his hands on her body, her breathing short and ragged. She reached out to push him away, but her hand caught his white shirt and instead of giving him a hard nudge, she lingered there, wrinkling the fabric in her fist. 

“Mister Queen. This is highly… inappropriate,” she breathed out, her eyes wide. 

“Tell me to stop, Felicity. Please tell me to stop,” he begged her, knowing only her words would be able to break the spell that had taken over him. 

She gulped as she looked at his pleading eyes, visibly unable to say the words that would break the moment. The moment that had been weeks, months in the making. 

“I can’t…” was all she whispered as she firmly grabbed his tie, pulling it so he was forced to lean his head, his nose brushing against her as their breath mingled for a brief second before he could finally taste her lips. 

She turned her head away at the last moment, leaving him panting with longing and desire but he didn’t have time to say anything that she was shoving him on his chair, already straddling one of his legs, her lips finding his neck and gently biting the tender flesh, soothing it with her tongue. Oliver felt his breathing quickening, the simple gesture enough to raise his arousal to alarming levels as he put his hands on her ass, firmly gripping it. Her mewl of approval sent him spiraling in a world of fantasy, already imagining all the things he could do to her that would reward him with the same sound. 

He turned his head, kissing her hair, moving his mouth down on her face, gently pushing her away from his neck so he could savor the taste of her skin. 

“Felicity… Are you sure?” was all he could whisper as he was literally holding onto the last shreds of sanity. 

Her breathing short, she raised her head high enough to meet his eyes just as she pressed herself even more closely to him, causing a small friction that left her whimpering in his arms. It was the only answer he needed as one of his hands cradled her face, angling it towards his mouth.

 

Dancing Queen

Young and sweet

Only seventeen

 

The hellish ringtone was like a bucket of ice cold water dropping on him. He woke up, his eyes wide and staring at the ceiling, only aware of how painfully hard he was. His hand was wrapped around his erection and he mentally scolded himself, not even remembering when was the last time he had had the kind of dream that had him waking up with his hand literally in his pants. 

As the annoying ring tone wouldn’t stop, he groaned, picking it up. Once he saw that the reason for his predicament was also the person calling him, he dropped his head back on the pillow. 

Gulping, hoping his voice wouldn’t betray him, he accepted the call. “Felicity… it’s not the right time…” 

Her breathy voice reached him, bringing new mental pictures that clearly didn’t help. “Oliver. I think you should come.” 

Oh Felicity. You have no idea how much I want to.

Chapter Text

"Girl On Fire"

 

She's just a girl and she's on fire
Hotter than a fantasy, lonely like a highway
She's living in a world and it's on fire
Feeling the catastrophe, but she knows she can fly away

Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got both feet on the ground
And she's burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
She got her head in the clouds
And she's not backing down

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Looks like a girl, but she's a flame
So bright, she can burn your eyes
Better look the other way
You can try but you'll never forget her name
She's on top of the world
Hottest of the hottest girls say

Ohhhh oh oh oh
We got our feet on the ground
And we're burning it down
Ohhhh oh oh oh oh
Got our head in the clouds
And we're not coming down

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

Everybody stares, as she goes by
'Cause they can see the flame that's in her eyes
Watch her when she's lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she's a lonely girl
And it's a lonely world
But she gon' let it burn, baby, burn, baby

This girl is on fire...
This girl is on fire...
She's walking on fire...
This girl is on fire...

 

Saying he needed a cold shower was an understatement. Oliver barely understood what Felicity told him on the phone – something about papers, contracts, his father and his mother. She was speaking a mile a minute, using terms he was pretty sure he had never heard in his life. But her voice… oh her voice…

As his head rested on the wall in front of him, catching his breath with her name still on his lips, he tried to gather his thoughts. The hot water cascading down his back was numbing his muscles, only reminding him of the tension that had taken over his body merely a few minutes ago. It took him a couple of minutes to finally be able to turn down the water and step out of the shower. Quickly drying up with a towel, he wasted no time in getting dressed with an old pair of jeans and a white t-shirt, his hair still slightly damp. 

After a quick stop at a coffee shop not far away from Felicity’s apartment, it was around 5:30 when he rang the bell. She didn’t even ask who it was and opened the main door for him right away. Taken aback and slightly worried by her lack of safety, he made his way to the first floor, shaking his head and mentally preparing a lecture about how a young woman living by herself should never let anyone in without checking the identity of her visitor. 

He actually didn’t even have time to knock on her door before she was already opening it for him, rushing him inside. 

“Felicity, it’s really not safe to let me in without…” he started to say but she cut him off right away. 

“Oh please, Oliver. I knew it was you,” she waved him off dismissively as she grabbed his arm and dragged him to the table in the living room. She took one of the cups of coffee he was still holding, probably gulping half of the liquid.

“OK. May I know what exactly couldn’t wait until 9AM?” Oliver asked, as he took hold of her hand, gently forcing her to let go of the cup. Judging from her edgy tone and the giant empty mug on the table, she probably had had more than enough caffeine for the next several days. 

She blinked several times. “I… I had to tell you. Because we don’t have that much time and… I was up. I had to tell you.” 

Oliver sighed. “I’m here now. Maybe we should sit down and…” 

Felicity interrupted him, frantically twitching her hands, “no. I tried to sit down but I haven’t been able to since 3 AM. But you! Go ahead, have a seat!” 

Looking at her warily, he sat down on one of the chairs around the table, taking a sip of his own coffee.

Felicity started pacing, her hands unable to stay still as she started to explain why she had to call him in the middle of the night. 

“Something has been nagging me for days. You always told me that your grandfather, Mr Dearden, can I call him James, by the way? It’s much easier for me.” Not waiting for an answer she continued, “so James, God bless his soul, passed away and made Moira his only heir, am I right?” 

“Yes…” Oliver answered, still confused by her reasoning. “But what does it have to…” 

“Getting there, Oliver! Getting there! Therefore, your mother ended up with shares that are solely hers, am I still right?” 

“Yes,” he answered curtly, knowing there was no point in trying to ask more questions. 

“You also told me that he, James, was very careful about this investment, wanting to make sure it would only benefit his descendants, am I still right?” 

Oliver nodded, his attention now attracted towards her pajama bottoms. They were different than the ones she had worn during the business trip, but just as Felicity. They were dark blue, with small robots he seemed to recognize from Star Wars. 

“What if he was just as careful in his will?” she asked him excitedly, forcing him to pay attention to her words. 

“Hum… I’m not sure I’m following you…” Oliver trailed off. 

“I’ve been doing some research ever since I got back home and I found out that it is not unusual, in similar circumstances, that someone can bequeath not only shares but also set the conditions in which those shares can be used.” 

“Still… not following.” 

“What I am saying is that maybe there is a chance that in the original contract of QC, when it was founded by Robert and dear old James, God bless his soul, there is a clause that protects your mother as well.” 

“Like what?” he asked, genuinely confused. 

“I don’t know. Maybe only a Queen or a Dearden can become officially CEO unless there is no living member of any of those families willing to take on the job? It’s not that uncommon, believe me I found many cases like that.” 

Oliver frowned. “But then, wouldn’t our attorneys have found out about it?” 

“Probably yes. But the thing is that Robert's death couldn't have been foreseen and the original contracts have been transmitted from one attorney’s office to another. Not to mention, you said it yourself: your father’s wealth, and that includes the parts he solely owned and not the ones that belong to your mother, will have to be divided between his heirs. The question is now how many of those shares were just his and how many were actually your mother’s. You told me yourself this was on hold. I’m ready to bet a hand that whoever has those documents now is in no hurry whatsoever.” 

Felicity took a deep breath, raising a shaky hand to her forehead. “I don’t mean to say that I am positive there is something in those original documents, the ones that were created when James invested in QC and became one of the biggest shareholders, and even if it is, there is nothing that can guarantee these shares were transmitted with the same conditions and clauses to your mother but… isn’t it worth a try?” 

She finally stopped, observing him and chewing her thumbnail, obviously unnerved by his lack of reaction. “Am I scaring you off? Cause I might have been told that I can be scary…” 

Oliver chuckled, passing a hand over his tired face. “No. You’re not scaring me… I’m trying to make sense of everything you just said.” 

“Coffee helps,” she offered, handing him his mug. 

“So you think we should try to find out if there is a way out in the original contracts, am I right?” 

“Yup.” 

“… but what exactly can we do now? It’s not even 6 AM.” 

“I… I might have run out of coffee,” she mumbled sheepishly, fiddling with the hem of her shirt. 

Oliver perked an eyebrow. “You woke me up in the middle of the night because you were craving coffee?” 

“It’s not exactly a craving. More like a need. But no, of course not. I didn’t wake you up just for that. I ran some searches and… nothing was digitalized back then which means I’m…” she sighed, her arms falling limply. “I’m at a loss.” 

“So you’re facing a dead-end, that’s what you’re saying,” Oliver summarized, amused by the pout on her face. 

“I wouldn’t have exactly put it that way but… I have to admit I was kind of hoping you would either have a copy of those bloody documents or at least tell me where they are. I assume they're at your attorney’s office but we can’t be sure he already has them all. So we need to get there first thing. We only have a bit more than 24 hours.” She resumed her pacing, taking off her glasses and rubbing her eyes. 

“Have you even slept?” Oliver asked softly, worried by the dark circles under her eyes.

She stopped dead in her tracks, her entire face flaming up as she stuttered. “Sleep? Yes, yes, obviously we slept, I mean I slept. A bit. Then I woke up when… when… well. I woke up.” 

He stood up, gently placing his hands on her shoulders. “I don’t think you’ll be able to sleep with amount of coffee you’ve been drinking, but I’d feel better if you at least laid down.” 

“But-” she protested. 

“No buts,” he interrupted her with a finger on her lips. “There is nothing you can do right now, anyway. Is there?” 

“… I guess not,” she grumbled. 

“This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to head back home, ask my mother where I can find those papers. With a bit of luck, we do have a copy. If we don’t, we’re going to head to David’s office first thing. Once the sun is completely up, I mean. You are going to try to lay down a couple of hours.” 

Felicity opened her mouth to protest but he cut her off right away. 

“Shhhh. Now, what you need is my grandfather’s will, the original contracts that state him as major shareholder and founding member of QC, am I right?” 

She glared at him, her eyes defying. “You mean I can talk, now?” 

Oliver smiled, looking down at her, marveling once more at how much shorter she was, feeling an unexpected rush of tenderness for what she was willing to do for him. 

“Felicity… I want you to know that I’m really thankful for everything you’re trying to do but…” 

“No buts,” she cut him off. “This is not over, Oliver. It won’t be over until Isabel is officially CEO and her child legally gets a third of your father’s inheritance. We’re not done fighting.”

 

 

**

The thing with Felicity Smoak was that ‘laying down and resting’ was absolutely out of the picture as long as she felt like there was something, somewhere that could help her solve the problem she was facing. 

“And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that,” she told herself out loud as she paced in her office, waiting for Oliver. “You are just as sane as the next person. Slightly more obsessive, maybe. But that’s about it.”

Glancing at the clock once more, she bit her lips. Oliver had promised to meet her at QC by 8:30, which was still almost half an hour away. 

She tried sitting down at her desk and least go through her emails, but she was too fidgety for that. For what felt like the hundredth time, she went through the list of legal documents they needed to access. She had tackled it as soon as Oliver had left her apartment, thinking it would make things easier at the attorney’s office if they had a clear listing of what exactly they were looking for. Even though a small voice deep inside her was whispering that maybe she was chasing dead-ends, she also knew she had to try. A part of her just couldn’t fathom having Isabel Rochev as CEO of the company that employed her. An even bigger part of her just couldn’t stand the look on Oliver’s face every time her name was even mentioned. 

As soon as she heard the ping of the elevator, she rushed there, hoping that for once Oliver would be early. 

Thank God

Oliver stepped out of the elevator, still dressed in his jeans and white t-shirt, causing a small moan to catch in her throat. So not the time, Smoak. So not the time.  

He stopped as soon as he saw her, shaking his head. “I told you 8:30” 

Felicity twisted her hands. “You really didn’t expect me to stay put, did you?” 

The shadow of a smile played on his lips. “… No, not really.” 

As they both walked to his office, she asked, “so? I can see you’re empty handed, so I guess there was nothing at the Mansion?” 

Oliver grimaced. “No. At least not that my mother knows of. We have an appointment at the attorney’s office by 10:30.” 

"Wait, what? 10:30? As in… 2 freaking hours?!” 

Oliver sighed. “Their archives are usually closed in the morning, most of the time. They do have my father’s will documents, though, so we’ll go through those first.” 

“But we don’t have much time, every hour counts!” 

“I know that, Felicity. Dig is going to come and help us, and I figured that in the meanwhile we could just list out everything we…” 

“I’ve done that already,” she cut him off. 

“Maybe be more specific? Because I’m probably sure neither Dig or I have ever gone through these kind of things. There will be someone there to help us but David warned me, it’s boxes and boxes of documents. And the ones we need might actually be at the attorney’s office that was in charge of my grandfather’s will but he said he’d make sure we get those as well.” 

Felicity groaned. “Of course it is. Just to make things even more complicated. But you’re right. I’m going to print out similar documents so you know what to look for.” 

She was just about to get back to her own office when she noticed the strange look he threw her. “What? What’s wrong?” 

Oliver pinched his lips, hesitating. “It’s just that… well…” 

“What?!” 

“I’ve never seen your hair in such a mess,” he eventually said sheepishly. “Not that it’s bad, it’s just unusual!” He added defensively when he saw the glare she threw at him. 

“Well, excuse me Mister-I-Just-Have-To-Put-On-A-Pair-Of-Jeans-And-A-White-Tshirt-To-Look-Like-A-Freaking-Adonis, but some of us don’t have the same luck. And it’s not even that messy!” she fumed, poking him on the chest as she caught her reflection in the window behind him. “Oh God. It is messy.” 

Blushing, she quickly took off the tie that was holding what was still a ponytail when she had left her place. Combing her thick hair with her fingers as she sat down at her desk, she quickly twisted it in a simple bun at the base of her neck. 

 

Searching for standard forms took her a bit longer than expected, and she was barely done printing them out and organizing them into two neat piles when Dig arrived, ready to go to the Queen’s attorney offices. Luckily, the three of them were actually expected and as soon as they stepped inside the modern building, they were rushed to the basement, where they kept most of the documents that weren’t of use. It turned out that the employee who was supposed to help them was a 20-something intern whose eyes turned the size of saucers when she saw Oliver. 

Felicity rolled her eyes, trying to get the poor girl’s attention as she handed her the list she had prepared. “So this is what we need to find. I know some documents might be at another firm, but we’ve been told we would get them during the day, is that right?” 

“Yes. Of course, I’ll bring those to you myself,” the young woman giggled, her eyes still on Oliver who automatically replied with a gentle smile. 

Exasperated, Felicity looked at her boss who shoved his hands in his pockets, having the decency to look embarrassed. 

“Don’t encourage her,” she hissed. 

“I was trying to be polite,” he murmured back as they followed the young woman down a flight of stairs. 

“We’re on a mission, here, Oliver. Manners are going to have to take the back seat.” 

The enamored intern led them through aisles and aisles of boxes until they reached the end of the room, where a few tables and chairs were pushed back against a wall.  

“We already prepared all the legal documents concerning the shares. If you need anything else, just ask me. I’ll be upstairs.” 

“Thank you, Miss,” Oliver said gently. 

“Jessica. Call me Jessica,” she answered, smiling brightly. “If you want anything… coffee, tea… Don’t hesitate to drop by.” 

“Thank you, but we’re all set,” Felicity answered shortly as she put the big tote bag she had been carrying on one of the tables. 

“If you’re sure…” Jessica bit her lips, throwing one last longing look at Oliver as she finally left them alone. 

“Alright,” Felicity said in a decided tone as she handed Oliver and Dig two neat files. “Here are examples of what we’re looking for. I suggest we first look at the oldest dates.” 

Both men shared a look as she started to unpack her tote bag, starting with a box of tissues. “I have about everything and anything we might need. We’re not leaving until we either find what we are looking for or we know for sure it’s not here.” 

A thermos, a bottle of water and three plastic cups followed, as well as what looked suspiciously like surgeon masks. 

“Felicity… why do we need masks, exactly?” Dig asked, his tone wary. 

“Dust. Which reminds me…” she explained shortly as she went through her purse this time and pulled out a small bottle of pills. “anti-histaminic. If one of you has an allergic reaction. I also have painkillers, by the way.” 

“No food?” Oliver teased her. 

She glared at him as she showed him the small cooler bag she had also brought along. “Do I look like an amateur or something?” 

Oliver pinched his lips, obviously trying not to laugh. “My bad. To my defense, I had no idea you had such a long experience in this area.” 

“I love scavenger hunts and… you have no idea the amount of time I spent in the library when I was younger.” 

“Really?” Oliver asked surprised. “I always pictured you as constantly on your computer, not much studying in the library.” 

“Well, I had to do a lot of research, and sometimes the internet just doesn’t cut it. Especially for that sociology class I took on my freshman year,” she answered as she took off her jacket, setting it on the back of a chair. 

“Sociology? You never told me you studied social sciences as well,” Oliver mused. 

“Well, I also never told you about my goth phase, so I guess it’s safe to say the major part of my college years is still a mystery to you.” 

“… goth? With piercings and stuff?” Oliver asked, intrigued with a small dreamy smile. 

“OK, you two,” Dig interrupted them, dropping a dusty box on the table and sliding it towards Felicity. “How about you get to work and leave that extremely interesting conversation for tonight, maybe?” 

Felicity smiled, opening the box and pulling out the files. “Yes. With piercings and stuff.” 

As the hours went by, and the boxes of documents as well, Felicity’s energy started to fade away. So far, they had been able to find original contracts tying Robert Queen and other investors, but none concerning the shares that eventually came to belong to Moira. 

Groaning, she closed the latest box she had been through, letting her head fall on the lid. 

“What kind, exactly?” Oliver asked nonchalantly. 

“Huh?” she asked, raising her head, wondering if he was talking to her or Dig. Seeing that Dig was currently on the other side of the room, she assumed the question was indeed for her. “What kind of what, exactly?” 

“Piercings,” Oliver answered, still rummaging through files. He raised his head, a cheeky smile on his lips. 

She tilted her head, attempting to glare at him. 

“What?” he chuckled. “You can’t exactly drop this kind of bomb and not expect me to get worked up about it.” 

“Worked up about it?” she raised her eyebrows. 

He shook his head, grinning as he put the files back in their box. “You know what I mean… I’m curious. So where did you use to have those piercings? Apart from the ear one, I mean.” 

She smiled slyly as she picked up another stack of papers. “Who said I don’t have them anymore?” 

Oliver stopped, his hands freezing as he slowly raised his head. 

Felicity smiled sweetly, ignoring the question in his eyes. “Keep looking.” 

Oliver’s narrowing eyes travelled down her body. 

“Through the files!” she playfully hit him with a lid, laughing. 

Smirking, he pointed a finger at her. “I haven’t said my last word.” 

She lightly slapped his hand away. “You always say that but I never see anything coming…” 

“Oh, believe me… once you least expect it… I’ll find a way to make you spill the beans.”

Felicity was about to reply when Dig loudly cleared his throat, causing them to turn around to face him. He had his arms crossed on his chest and was glaring at them, shaking his head. “I thought we were on a mission, here?” 

Felicity and Oliver shared a sheepish look then went back to work, trying to hide the smiles on their faces. 

“Stop distracting me,” she whispered. 

“Stop mentioning your piercings,” he whispered back. 

“Stop bickering or I’m going to separate you,” Dig exclaimed, exasperated. 

 

They all went back to their searching, the sounds of papers being turned the only sound disturbing the silence. Jessica brought them a few boxes in the afternoon, asking once more if they needed her help. Felicity quickly declined, not trusting anyone else with the task. 

“I mean, come on,” she said as soon as the intern had left them alone. “I know it’s their job to go through those legal docs, but I’m pretty sure she’d spend more time ogling you. Not to mention, no one thinks there is actually anything to find anyway…” 

Sighing, she sat down on a chair. “And maybe they’re right. Maybe I’m Luna Lovegood.” 

Both men shared a confused look. 

“Luna…?” Oliver asked. 

“Lovegood. Harry Potter. She believes in all these things that nobody believes in. People steal her shoes,” Felicity said, defeated, as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “Although no one stole my shoes. Yet. But watch out, soon enough I’m gonna be called Loony.” 

Oliver walked to her, kneeling by her chair and gently pressing her hand. “Hey. First of all… we’re a team, remember? And second of all, I promise you that no one is ever going to call you Loony. Not on my watch. And they will have to get over my dead body to get to your shoes as well.” 

She let out a small giggle, nodding her head and holding his gaze.

“I hate to interrupt you… again… but I think I found something.” Dig’s voice reached them but it took them a few seconds to register his words and tear their eyes off each other. 

Felicity was on her feet so fast, she almost knocked Oliver down. “What? What did you find?” 

“I’m not sure but this looks like the original contract giving Mrs Queen her shares, officially after her father’s death.” 

Felicity quickly grabbed the papers from his hands, Oliver leaning over her shoulder. 

“Yes… that’s the one that officially states she is now the sole owner of Mister James Dearden’s former shares and that all clauses and conditions decided when Mister James Dearden was founding member of QC apply.”

“That’s good, right?” Oliver asked. 

“Yes… But they don’t say what those conditions and clauses are. Is there anything else in that file?” Felicity asked, peeking in the box. 

“No. That’s literally all there is, apart from a copy of Mr Dearden’s will,” Dig answered while Felicity rummaged through the papers. 

“Damn it! It still doesn’t specify anything!” Felicity cursed as she quickly read the will. 

“I’m going to see David,” Oliver announced, taking the documents. “At least now he will know exactly what we need.” 

He jogged out of the room, the sound of his steps echoing through the empty space. 

Dig reached out and squeezed her arm reassuringly. “Hey. At least we found something. Maybe that will be enough to postpone the vote, or something.” 

“No. It won’t. It’s happening tomorrow morning, no matter what. The time to give any piece of evidence was when the candidates made their presentation. That paper is not enough by itself,” she said, defeated as her shoulders slumped. 

“There are still two more boxes, come on,” he gently nudged her, trying to keep her spirits high. They went through them, mostly economic reports and values of shares. As Felicity closed the lid of the last box, she let out a sigh. 

“There is still Mr Dearden’s attorney, but he passed away and his cases and clients were divided between the firm partners,” Felicity said as she started to pack her belongings. “It’s going to be impossible to find.” 

Dig was about to answer when the sound of rushed steps caused them both to stand up from their chairs. 

“David told me that everything should be in there. He had all these documents delivered from their archives storage building.” 

“Then they forgot something!” Felicity shouted as frustration was starting to get the best of her nerves. “Where is that damn building? We’ll check ourselves!” 

She put her jacket on, grabbing her bags. “Come on, it’s almost 7, we don’t have much time.” 

Oliver pinched his lips, shaking his head. “The location is locked digitally, for safety reasons. You can’t access it past office hours.” 

“What?!” she asked, dropping her bag in disbelief. “You’re one of their biggest clients and… the only thing they can tell you is ‘you can’t get there cause it’s past office hours’? Do they know how important this is?”

Shaking, she brought a hand to her forehead. “I can’t believe this…” 

“Felicity… we did everything we could do. I will still present this document to the board and ask for a small delay. Maybe they will agree,” Oliver tried to placate her as he softly put his hands on her shoulders. 

“Oliver, we both know they won’t accept it. They just want to get it over with.” 

“Then we will find another way. Eventually.” 

Felicity sighed, glancing at Dig who was sitting on the corner of a table. 

He nodded. “Losing a battle doesn’t mean you’re going to lose the war.”

 

As the three of them were driving back to QC, in a very unusual silence mostly due to Felicity being uncharacteristically quiet, Oliver reached out a hand to lightly squeeze her own. 

Turning her head, she saw his gentle smile trying to reassure her. 

“I’m supposed to be the one comforting you. Not the other way around,” she said softly. 

“You’re also supposed to be the one bringing me coffee. Not the other way around,” he teased her. “So let’s just admit that our whole relationship is unconventional, once and for all, OK?” 

She grinned. “That it is. Although…” she sighed, “I really thought we were going to find something.”

“We did. We just ran out of time to get the confirmation. On the bright side, today made me learn a few interesting facts about my assistant, so… I say there were a few positive things.” 

“You mean my very practical approach to archive searching, I assume?” she raised an eyebrow. 

“… Of course.” 

They shared an amused smile before falling back into a comforting silence as they sped through the city. The night was slowly falling, and the traffic was getting busy. 

It was only when Dig parked the car in QC’s garage that she noticed their hands were still attached.

 

 

Once she got home, after having dinner with Dig and Oliver in a sushi restaurant, Felicity tried watching TV to soothe her nerves. She zapped from one channel to another, unable to focus on anything.  Fidgeting, she started to glance at her laptop, an idea forming in her head. 

“No. This is a very bad idea,” she said out loud in a firm voice, trying to convince herself. “Don’t even think about it, Smoak.” 

She picked up a book, trying to think about something else. It took her about another two minutes to give up and throw the book across the room, grabbing her laptop instead, intending to find where that archive storage was located. She was far from ready to give up and even if she had to infiltrate the damn building herself, she would find that bloody document. 

Once she had found the address, she got dressed into black clothes, mentally cursing her love for bright colors for making it hard to find something suitable. It was almost 11PM when she softly knocked on Dig’s door, praying he was home and didn’t have any plans. 

He answered the door right away and looked her up from head to toes, surprised. “Felicity? What… what are you doing here?” 

Taking a deep breath, she rambled. “I need you to drive me to the archive storage. You shouldn’t ask any more questions really because I might, or might not, do… slightly illegal things.” 

Dig’s eyebrows almost reached his hairline. “Excuse me?”

“We need to get into that building. We both know that Isabel won’t hesitate to get rid of us at the first opportunity. I mean… fire us. Not hire the Russian mob to kill us. Well, I hope so at least,” she stopped, nervously biting her lips. “Do you think she would do that?” 

“Hire professional killers? No, I don’t think so,” he rolled his eyes, “but Felicity what do you want us to do? The place is locked and probably highly secured as well.” 

“It is digitally locked, Dig. If there is one thing I’m good at… it’s wires and computers and anything digital really.” She suddenly paused, “… what do you mean by ‘us’ exactly?” 

“If you think, for one second, that I’m leaving you out there all alone, then you are officially out of your mind,” he said as he picked up his jacket and a beanie from a closet. “And I know if I refuse to drive you there, you’re probably going to get a cab or something.” 

“I don’t want you to…” 

“If you’re going, I’m going. Believe me… if there is a chance to get rid of that woman, I’m in.” 

“I thought you said that losing a battle didn’t mean losing the war?” Felicity asked as they walked down the stairs. 

“Yeah but if we can win the war right away, it’s even better.”

 

Getting there only took them about thirty minutes. The building was just outside of Starling, in a very much deserted area. There were similar constructions around, probably used as storage space by different companies.

Dig first made a round, checking if there were no camera or guards despite Felicity’s amusement. 

“It’s just papers… and old ones that is. I highly doubt they have guards, especially if it’s electronically locked at certain hours.” 

“Better safe than sorry, Felicity.” 

Once he finally gave her the green light, she quickly unscrewed the control panel near the main door, digitally getting through the firewalls and protections via her tablet. Dig was on the lookout, ready to get back to the car if any alarm went off but after barely a minute, all they heard was the lock of the door clicking.

Felicity fist-pumped, putting her tablet back in her messenger back as she pushed the door opened. 

“Remind me to never get on your bad side, Felicity Smoak,” Dig whispered in admiration as he closed the door behind them. 

She smiled at him, handing him one of the flashlights she had brought along. Finding the right area took them very little time as Felicity hacked the system to get the information.

 

Fortunately, everything concerning QC was stored on the main floor, which at least made their task easier. Unfortunately… the amount of files was frightening. They both shared a look as they saw the multitude of rows and boxes before settling to work. An uneasy feeling settled at the bottom of her stomach, knowing the clock was more than ticking. The board meeting was set up for 8AM. Of course. It’s usually in the afternoon but just this time, they had to do it as early as possible. 

Take a box, open it, take the files out, look through them, put them back on, close the lid, put the box back, take a box, open it, take the files out,… she repeated the mantra in her head, but as the hours went by, her body became more and more tired, making every move slower. 

“Felicity… it’s dawn,” Dig told her, speaking for the first time since they had arrived.

“We still have until 7:30, which is when the first employees arrive,” she said, not raising her eyes. 

“That’s in less than one hour.” 

“That means we still have about sixty minutes so I suggest we use them well,” she answered shortly, the exhaustion causing her to snap. They worked again in silence for a little while, until she started to feel bad for talking like that to him. 

She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Dig. I didn’t mean to snap.” 

“It’s OK. Oliver better give you the day off, though,” Dig chuckled. “That’s two nights in a row, for you.” 

She yawned. “Don’t remind me. I might probably end up snoring and drooling on my…” 

“On your?” Dig asked, glancing at her. He did a double-take as he saw her holding a paper, her mouth slightly agape. “Felicity?” 

“Oh my God, Dig… I found it!” she almost cried with relief as her eyes went through the sentences once more, making sure she had read correctly the first time. 

Dig rushed to her side, directing his flashlight to what she was holding between her hands. The sentences were a pure legal jargon but he saw that the date was right and it was indeed a contract signed by Robert Queen and James Dearden regarding the creation of QC and their rights as original founders, even in the case where the company would become public. 

“Does that mean…” he trailed off, showing a word that had somehow attracted his attention. 

“Yes! Yes!” she whisper-yelled. “That’s exactly what it means. Come on we need to clean this up and go.” 

The excitement helping, it only took them a minute to put everything back the way it was. Running to the door, Felicity unlocked it once more and let Dig out, taking her tablet out to erase her traces as he went to get the car. 

The sudden rush of excitement caused by her discovery had washed out any tiredness and, as she waited the few seconds it took to confirm that there wouldn’t be any traces of someone unlocking the security, she quickly glanced at her messenger bag, patting the precious document she had found. Dumbledore’s Army 1 – Deatheathers 0. 

She was just about to unplug the wire linking her tablet to the control panel when an unknown voice behind her chilled her. 

“What are you doing?” 

She carefully turned around, her eyes landing on a guard a few feet away from her. He was looking at her curiously, as if the presence of an unknown was so unexpected he didn’t really know how to react. Seeing he was working security for some 20 year old papers, it wasn’t surprising, she thought. 

“I… my car broke down?” she said tentatively, hoping Dig would come soon enough. She noted with relief that at least the guard’s gun was still firmly attached on his hip, and not in his hand. 

She walked down the few steps. “I called a friend, he’s going to be there any minute now, but I… I needed to pee so… I knocked to see if…” 

The sound of a motor reached them and she closed her eyes with relief as she saw, from the corner of her eyes, Dig’s car approaching her. 

“Oh, here he is!” she said cheerfully, as Dig stopped closed to her. “Have a great day!” 

She jumped on the passenger seat, the guard still bewildered. “Oh my goodness. That was scary.” 

“Did he see you do anything?” 

“I don’t think so,” she answered as she turned on her seat, seeing the employee examining the door. “One minute sooner and the goose was cooked, though.” 

She grinned brightly at him as she fastened her seatbelt. “Damn. I feel like I’m in 24!” 

Dig chuckled as he kept his eyes on the road. He pulled them on a main road, leaving the slightly deserted area between them. Unfortunately, due to the hour, the traffic was extremely busy as most people were leaving for work. 

 

“Now that is anticlimactic,” she stated as they were slowly progressing on the highway. 

“Doesn’t fit your high speed chase fantasy?” Dig asked, smirking. 

Felicity groaned, her foot impatiently tapping. “Not really, no.” 

“We’ll be there on time, don’t worry. I called Oliver, asked him to stall things a bit.” 

She didn’t bother to answer and just nodded, pinching her lips. 

 

It was 8:15 when they finally arrived at QC.  Dig didn’t bother stopping the car, barely slowing it down to let Felicity out. 

“Go! I’ll catch up!” 

She jumped out of the car, holding her messenger bag as if it was the Holy Grail itself and ran up the stairs leading to the main entrance, mentally cursing herself for being so out of shape. If I’m there on time, I promise I’ll subscribe to a gym club.

Chapter Text

"Killer Queen"

 

She keeps Moët et Chandon
In her pretty cabinet
'Let them eat cake,' she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy
For Kruschev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation
You can't decline

Caviar and cigarettes
Well versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice

She's a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?

To avoid complications
She never kept the same address
In conversation
She spoke just like a baroness
Met a man from China
Went down to Geisha Minah
Then again incidentally
If you're that way inclined

Perfume came naturally from Paris
For cars she couldn't care less
Fastidious and precise

She's a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Drop of a hat she's as willing as
Playful as a pussy cat
Then momentarily out of action
Temporarily out of gas
To absolutely drive you wild, wild..
She's all out to get you

She's a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind
Anytime

Recommended at the price
Insatiable an appetite
Wanna try?
You wanna try...

 

“Yep. Alright. Thanks Dig.” Oliver hung up the phone, turning to his mother who was sitting next to him in the limo. “Felicity might have found something… we need to try and stall this as much as possible.”

They were on their way to QC when he had gotten the phone call from his bodyguard. To say that he had been surprised by the few words of explanation he had heard was an understatement – “Felicity and I were on a solo mission. Long story short, she found something. Stall the thing, we’re on our way” – but he knew by the edge in Dig’s voice that now wasn’t the time to ask questions.

“What do you mean exactly?” his mother asked him, surprised.

“It’s… I honestly don’t know myself,” he answered, shrugging, “but I know Felicity. If she says she found something, then she did.”

“Alright but… we can’t exactly ask the board to wait and give them no reason, can we?”

Oliver hummed. “We could always ask them to play a game of Backgammon?”

Moira glanced at him, the ghost of a smile playing on her lips. “Oh, dear... I'm afraid they’re Bridge people.” 
 

The rest of the trip was mostly silent, the tension in the car still lingering. Oliver’s mind was torn between hope and the need to keep his expectations low. All he could do was wonder where the hell Felicity and Dig had dug up whatever they had found and also if it would be enough to tip the scale.

It was only when their driver pulled into QC’s parking lot that his mother turned to him, patting his hand reassuringly.

“You know, Oliver… whatever happens today… it’s only a battle. CEOs are voted into office but can also be voted out of it . We’ll figure it out, eventually,” she said, offering him a comforting smile.

Walter was waiting for them in the main hall and the three of them made small chat while waiting for the elevator. He seemed his usual British self: cool, calm, collected. It was only then that Oliver realized he had never seen him lose his temper. Even when he had been the one in charge of supervising him, which was saying something.

Oliver quickly glanced at his watch once they stepped inside the conference room, which was already full.

7:56 – come on guys.

He sat down at the table, next to another board member who proceeded to tell him about the Golf Tournament he was going to attend later that day. Nodding every now and then non-committedly was more than enough to keep the man going, which was fortunate considering the famous lack of interest Oliver had for the sport. Unless it involved a certain charming blonde, obviously.

He discreetly checked his phone, considering giving them a call when his mother’s voice, from next to him, caught his attention.

“Alfred… I was wondering if, before we get to topic, I could say a word?”

Oliver frowned, taken aback. He had been ready to ask a gazillion questions concerning the voting process to gain some time but never thought his mother would step in as well. He trusted Dig and Felicity above everything, and had very little doubts that if they actually asked him to stall, it was for a very good reason. But his mother didn’t know them like he did. Yet, she was apparently putting her trust in them.

“Well… of course, Moira,” Alfred answered, probably just as surprised as Oliver judging from his tone.

Moira calmly put a hand on his arm, offering him a small smile as she whispered, “Let’s try to gain a few minutes.”

He felt his lips stretch into a smile, feeling for the first time in a long time a sense of partnership between him and his mother. As if they were once more part of the same team.

As she took the stand, he quickly typed a text, hoping he would at least get an indication of where his friends were, tuning down the voices around him.

“… This is why I want to assure each and every single one of you that no matter what happens with this vote, Queen Consolidated will always be a part of my family and so will you. I will still be involved, and probably more than before, trying to fill in my late husband’s shoes. I have no doubts my family will also be able to count on you and that the best interest of our company will be your priority as well” he heard his mother say.

“Thank you, Moira. I am sure that everyone feels reassured of your… unconditional support,” Isabel said slowly from the opposite side of the table. “I do feel like it’s more than time to get on with the results of the vote, don’t you all agree?”

Oliver cleared his throat. “About that. I was wondering if we will be able to access legal documents proving who voted for who?”

Isabel frowned at him, her mouth forming a hard line on her face. “As it has been said in the memo our legal department sent us, they have made sure everything is legally-biding. Although I am positive that, if you feel inclined, you could always ask for direct access to that information. Once the meeting is over, obviously.”

Oliver clenched his jaw. “Obviously. I am merely trying to make sure everything is as transparent as can be, Isabel.”

“I am confident you already checked that more than once over the last few weeks, Oliver,” she answered coldly, raising an eyebrow. Turning to Alfred, she added, “I think we’ve waited long enough.”

Alfred looked at Oliver apologetically, lightly shrugging his shoulders. “Let us begin, then.”

Oliver passed a nervous hand over his face, resting his elbow on the table.

The whole process was actually rather fast. All the shareholders had already cast their votes themselves or through legal representatives. All that was left to do was simple math, adding the votes of each candidate and hoping that this time, there would be a majority.

It was a very close fight, which surprised no one. With the insight they have had thanks to Alfred, they knew Isabel would gain the vote.

As the president of the board was going through the remaining vote, confirming what they all knew, Isabel’s face turned into one of triumph and satisfaction.

“Well… there is a majority of votes towards Miss…” Alfred interrupted himself as the sound of a small commotion outside the room could be heard.

Muffled voices could be heard through the door and Oliver had to bite back a smile when he recognized Felicity’s furious voice.

“You get the fuck out of my way or I swear to God I’m going to strangle you with your bowtie then shove it down your throat until you choke on it!”

The door opened just then, a clearly disheveled Felicity falling through it more than anything else, while Mark, Isabel’s assistant was hopping on one leg behind her.

“She kicked me! I’m sorry, Isabel, I tried to stop her…”

Felicity slammed the door on his face, out of breath and trying to get her hair out of her face.

“Miss, I’m sorry but this is a private meeting,” Alfred told her, caught off guard by her appearance.

“I know,” Felicity breathed as she walked up to Oliver who was just standing up to meet her halfway. “It will only take a second.”

“Alfred, this is completely inappropriate! Can we get on with the meeting and officiate the vote?” Isabel snapped.

“Yes. Of course, Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Alfred asked once more, this time his voice more assured.

Felicity ignored him as she handed Oliver the documents she had with her.

“… Well. Alright, then. Let’s just get on with it. This Board officially names Isabel Rochev CEO of Queen Consolidated. If anyone has…”

“Mrs Queen does,” Felicity chirped.

Moira looked at her, taken aback. “I do what?”

“You were going to say that if anyone wishes to say something they have to speak now or forever hold their peace… right? Or is that just for weddings?” Felicity asked, frowning. “I’m Jewish, so I’m not even sure that phrase is still used in weddings, though.”

She turned to Oliver with questioning eyes. “Is it still used in weddings?”

“Felicity, to the point.”

“This is unacceptable, call security!” Isabel shouted, raising her arms as people around her were starting to talk to their neighbors, wondering why Oliver Queen’s assistant had interrupted their meeting to talk about weddings.

“Veto!” Felicity blurted out, causing everyone to pause and stare at her. “Mrs Queen has the right to veto any decision made by this board. Like Mister Queen,” she stopped, glancing at Oliver. “Well… the old one. I mean the one who’s dead. Oh my God, I’m so sorry. Mr Robert Queen is what I mean,” she said through gritted teeth, her eyes closed in obvious frustration.

“Miss… The right to veto was solely reserved to Robert because he was the founding member of this company.”

“He wasn’t,” Moira said softly, realization dawning on her. "He wasn’t the founding member. He was one of them. My father was the other one.”

“Yes!” Felicity exclaimed, fist pumping. “You were the sole heir to James Dearden’s shares and, in the original contracts as well as in his will, he made sure that all the clauses and conditions linked to his position as founding member would be passed to you as well.”

“Including the right to veto,” Oliver added, in wonder.

“Where does that even come from? We never heard of anything like this,” one of the members asked, confused. “I mean, surely Moira would have known!”

“Here are the original contracts that state James Dearden as co-founding member of the company.” Felicity presented a document to Alfred, pointing to the specific clause. “And here it is very specifically written that all his privileges will automatically be transmitted to his daughter if he was to pass away, or his daughter’s children if she… well if she passed away as well.”

“I never knew…” Moira whispered, the emotion causing her voice to tremble slightly.

“I think Mr Queen probably never thought you would need it… and your father probably thought that the attorney in charge of his inheritance would make sure you were informed of everything in detail. But this attorney died, and then those documents were passed from one lawyer to another and… well. The rest is history, I guess.”

“It… it all seems legitimate,” Alfred’s voice interrupted them.

“What?!” Isabel stood up. “This is a set up. Obviously it is a set up!”

“Isabel. This right to veto has always existed, you know that. I suggest we get our legal department to check everything, but in the meanwhile… Moira if you have something to say about the board promoting Miss Rochev…” Alfred trailed off, unable to hide his smirk.

Moira crossed her hands on the table, leaning forward on her chair, her eyes never leaving Isabel as a small smile stretched her lips. “I veto.”


As soon as his mother finished her sentence, Oliver saw Felicity slowly walking backwards towards the door. He instinctively tried to stand up, not sure if it was to stop her or follow her, but his mother’s hand stopped him, forcing him to sit back. He looked at Felicity, wordlessly asking her to stay but she awkwardly waved her hand towards her hair, shaking her head. Only then did he fully realize how tired she looked, and how her whole appearance was the opposite of her usual neat self. She had some smears of dark dust on her forehead, her clothes were wrinkly and her face make-up free.

Despite every cell in his body screaming for him to follow her, he stayed put, watching her closing the door as quietly as possible – a striking contrast to how she had entered the room a few minutes ago.


He barely paid attention to what happened next, his mind trying to focus on anything but the vibrant need he felt to walk through that door and… hug her, or kiss her, or a little bit of everything, probably. He didn’t know what touched him the most: that she kept looking, for him, or that she never stopped thinking they would find a way. All he knew was that the day he had stumbled upon her in the entrance hall of Queen Consolidated had changed his life, in so many different ways. Where would he be right now if she hadn’t turned his world upside down?

“Oliver? Oliver!” His mother’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Turning his head, he noticed several board members were already leaving the room.

“Sorry, mom, I was…”

“Day-dreaming,” she finished for him with a scolding voice. Yet, there was a gentleness in her eyes as she looked at her son.

Oliver cleared his throat and stood up from his seat. “If we’re all done, here…”

Moira smiled. “We are not, actually. We need to talk with Walter.”

He nodded nervously, shifting on his feet and unable to stop glancing at the door.

She pinched her lips, trying to keep her amusement at bay. “You know, Oliver, the last time I saw you acting like this, you were 8 and had that silly crush on your new teacher.”

Oliver shut his eyes, grimacing with embarrassment. Once he opened them, it suddenly dawned on him that Walter was nowhere to be seen. “Wait… where is Walter?”

“He went to get Miss Smoak, since you were so busy day-dreaming,” his mother answered teasingly.

He glared at her “so this whole holding me back was because…?”

Grinning, she answered, tapping his cheek. “Because your mother felt like teasing you a bit.”

Just then, Felicity walked inside the room, followed by Walter. She was talking animatedly, her hands twisting and moving in every direction. A clear sign that she was nervous and probably had way too much coffee, thought Oliver.

She had her hair back in a neat ponytail, her face was clean but there was nothing she could have done to mask the dark circles under her eyes. Her lips seemed almost raw, probably from biting them too much.

And he couldn’t keep his eyes off of her. He wasn’t aware his feet were moving when he was already walking to her, his eyes hard and blazing, not caring about Walter, his mother and whoever else was in the room. At this moment, she was all that mattered to him.

Unfortunately, it seems like she wasn’t in the same mind state as she took a step back, getting closer to Walter and glancing nervously at his mother. Seeing her uncomfortable was enough to slow him down and, as he arrived in front of her, he gulped, resisting the urge to kiss her there in front of everyone. Because at that moment, he couldn’t care less about consequences. They stayed like that for a couple of seconds, a few inches away from each other, their breathing already in sync, until he couldn’t take it anymore. He had to touch her, to make sure she was real, to make sure she was by his side, like she had been from the beginning and like he hoped she would always be. He gently cradled her face between his hands and let his lips draw a soft, chaste kiss on her forehead. He lingered probably a bit longer than necessary, letting himself at least savor that, letting her familiar smell sooth his nerves and set them on fire at the same time. Once he finally found the strength to move away from her, just enough so he could still hold her face, he noticed how red her skin was, her lips slightly agape and her eyes fixing his like she could see right through them and into his soul.

“Thank you,” he whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. He knew the words were not enough, but he also knew that, wherever she was concerned, words would never be enough.

She drew in a shaky smile, lightly nodding her head as she understood, once again, what he wasn’t saying out loud.

“I told you I’d find something,” she laughed slightly, keeping her voice quiet.

He couldn’t help but grin widely. “You did.”

Walter clearing his throat loudly finally broke them apart and they turned to face him and his mother, the two of them wearing the same blush on their faces once they finally remembered that they had company.

“Miss Smoak,” Moira said with a gentle smile as she took one of her hands between hers. “I have no idea how I can possibly thank you for what you did for my family.”

Felicity coughed awkwardly. “Oh. It was nothing, really. I mean, it was something, obviously, and I would kill for a shower right now, and something to eat, not necessarily in that order, mind you,…”

Oliver bowed his head, trying to hide his smile as he gently put a hand on the small of her back, knowing the gesture would help her get back on track. He felt a weird sense of pride when she took a deep breath, gathering herself.

“I mean… I was doing my job and I’m glad I was able to help,” Felicity finished.

“I feel like we should take the time to celebrate before getting back to work. We have a lot of things to talk about, Oliver,” Walter said quietly. “But since Miss Smoak here is more than understandably tired, maybe it could wait for tonight?”

“Great idea. Miss Smoak, I would be delighted if you could join us for dinner, tonight.”

Felicity hesitated, glancing at Oliver. “I’m not sure it’s… I wouldn’t want to intrude.”

“Please. I would love to get to know you better and I’m sure we could use your insights as well concerning the future of the company. You have proved yourself to be a valuable and extremely resourceful asset, after all," Moira gently reassured her. “But I have to admit, I’m genuinely curious as to where you found those documents.”

Felicity laughed nervously, glancing at Oliver who smiled reassuringly. “Well, you see, it was indeed in…”

She was interrupted by Mark who knocked on the open door to get their attention. “I’m sorry to interrupt but there are a few police officers looking for you, Felicity.”

He was sporting a gleeful look on his face as he saw her gulping anxiously.

“Police officers? In this building?” Moira asked in disbelief. “Surely it must be a mistake.”

Two men in police uniforms entered the room, showing off their badges and introducing themselves. Oliver protectively stood in front of Felicity as if it was enough to make her disappear.

“Miss Smoak?” The younger man asked her, peeking behind Oliver’s shoulder. “Are you Miss Felicity Smoak?”

“Yes,” she squeaked.

“Gentlemen, I have no idea why you are here but I’m sure that this can wait a few hours. We were in the middle of a very important meeting, here,” Walter said in his most intimidating voice.

“I’m afraid not, Mister Steel. Miss Smoak, you are under arrest for breaking and entering a private building as well as suspected espionage,” the older officer answered, grabbing her arm. 

“What?!” Oliver shouted. “This is ridiculous!”

“She was identified by a witness this morning, sir. He testified that he caught her leaving a building belonging to a law firm. They are pressing charges.”

Felicity closed her eyes, breathing loudly. “It’s OK. No need to handcuff me, I’m not going anywhere.”

“It’s the procedure, Miss Smoak.”

“I am extremely close to Captain Shatner, which I’m sure you’re aware of, detective,” Moira said calmly in a menacing tone. “I am positive that he would side by me when I say I do not wish to see one of our most trusted employees being escorted with handcuffs.”

Both officers shared a glance, nodding slightly. “If you are willing to act as guardian and take full responsibility, Mrs Queen…”

“I am. Now, I believe you are taking her to the police station?” Moira asked, her phone already in hand.

“Yes,” they both answered, while escorting Felicity out of the room.